How to Defend Democracy After the January 6th Hearings Close

Startling testimony and powerful words have to lead to action, but so far no one has offered a plan for what to do next

Micah Sifry

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The hearings of the House Select Committee on January 6th have been going great. Each session has offered a gripping narrative of the efforts of President Trump and a small army of his acolytes to corruptly hold onto power after losing the 2020 election first in the balloting and then in their court challenges to those results. Every hearing has included shocking new revelations, often from the direct testimony of members of the White House staff or other Republicans and sometimes from contemporary documents or communications discovered by the committee during its investigation. The committee’s members have each taken turns leading the questioning of witnesses, with none of the grandstanding so common to most other congressional hearings. And many have spoken eloquently about the importance of the story they are piecing together of a power-hungry president willing to knowingly bring down violence on his political enemies and those, like Vice President Pence, who wouldn’t do his bidding. Whether you’ve watched every minute live (like me) or just caught the highlights on the news or elsewhere online, you have to admit the committee has vastly exceeded the initial expectations for its work.

There’s just one problem. At some point, these hearings have to end. And so far, I have yet to hear anyone say what we are supposed to do then.

Rep. Jamie Raskin closed out today’s hearing with a warning. “The political scientists tell us that authoritarian parties have two essential features in common in history and around the world. They do not accept elections when they lose and they embrace political violence as legitimate. The problem of incitement to political violence has only grown worse in the internet age. This is not the problem of just one political party, it is the problem of all of us now. American democracy is a precious inheritance,” he said. “Constitutional democracy is the silver frame, as Lincoln put it, upon which the golden apple of freedom rests. We need to defend both our democracy and our freedom with everything we have and declare that this American carnage ends here…

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