Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

A small group of demonstrators protest near Trump Tower on January 07, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. They called for the removal of President Donald Trump from office after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC yesterday as lawmakers met to count the Electoral College votes in the presidential election. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

A small group of demonstrators protest near Trump Tower on January 07, 2021 in Chicago, Illinois. They called for the removal of President Donald Trump from office after a pro-Trump mob stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC yesterday as lawmakers met to count the Electoral College votes in the presidential election. (Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

We Cannot Afford to Forget the Death and Damage Trump Has Caused

Trump's big lie and all that it has provoked are still with us. If we forget what has occurred the trauma will return, perhaps in even more terrifying form.

Robert Reich

 by RobertReich.org

America prefers to look forward rather than back. We're a land of second acts. We move on.

This can be a strength. We don't get bogged down in outmoded traditions, old grudges, obsolete ways of thinking. We constantly reinvent. We love innovation and disruption.  

Trump is consolidating his power over the Republican Party, based on his big lie.

The downside is a collective amnesia about what we've been though, and a corresponding reluctance to do anything about it or hold anyone accountable.

Now, with Covid receding and the economy starting to rebound—and the 2020 election and the attack on the Capitol behind us—the future looks bright.

But at the risk of being the skunk at the picnic, let me remind you:

We have lost more than 580,000 people to COVID-19. One big reason that number is so high is our former president lied about the virus and ordered his administration to minimize its danger.  

He also lied about the results of the last election. And then—you remember, don't you?—he tried to overturn the results.

He twisted the arms of state election officials. He held a rally to stop Congress from certifying the election, followed by the violent attack on the Capitol. Five people died. Senators and representatives could have been slaughtered.

Several Republican members of Congress joined him in the big lie and refused to certify the election. They thereby encouraged the attempted coup.

This was just over four months ago, yet we seem to be doing everything we can to blot it out of our collective memory.

Last Tuesday, the Washington Post hosted a live video chat with Missouri Republican senator Josh Hawley, a ringleader in the attempt to overturn the results of the election. Hawley had even made a fist-pump gesture toward the mob at the Capitol before they attacked.

But the Post billed the interview as being about Hawley's new book on the "tyranny of big tech." It even posted a biography of Hawley that made no mention of Hawley's sedition, referring instead to his supposed reputation "for taking on the big and the powerful to protect Missouri workers," and as "a fierce defender of the Constitution."

Last week, "CBS This Morning" interviewed Florida Republican senator Rick Scott, another of the senators who tried to overturn the election by not certifying the results. But there was no mention of any of his sedition. The CBS interviewer confined his questions to Biden's spending plans, which Scott unsurprisingly opposed.  

Senators Ted Cruz and Ron Johnson, and House minority leader Kevin McCarthy also repeatedly appear on major news programs without being questioned about their attempts to undo the results of the election.

What possible excuse is there for booking them if they have not publicly retracted their election lies? At the least, if they must appear, ask them if they continue to deny the election results and precisely why.

Pretending nothing happened promotes America's dangerous amnesia, which invites more attempts to distort the truth.  

Trump is consolidating his power over the Republican Party, based on his big lie. The GOP is about to purge one of its leaders, Wyoming Representative Liz Cheney, for telling the truth.

The big lie is being used by Republican state legislatures to justify new laws to restrict voting. On Thursday, hours after Florida installed a rash of new voting restrictions, Texas's Republican-led Legislature pushed ahead with its a bill that would make it one of the hardest states in which to cast a ballot.

The Republican-controlled Arizona senate is mounting a private recount of the 2020 presidential election results in Maricopa County—farming out 2.1 million ballots to GOP partisans, including at least one who participated in the January 6 raid on the Capitol.

Last Monday, Trump even lied about his big lie, issuing a "proclamation" to co-opt the language of those criticizing the lie. "The Fraudulent Presidential Election of 2020 will be, from this day forth, known as the BIG LIE!" he wrote.

Most Republican voters believe him.

It is natural to want to put all this unpleasantness behind us. We are finally turning the corner on the pandemic and the economy.

Why look back to the trauma of the 2020 election? Because we cannot put it behind us. Trump's big lie and all that it has provoked are still with us. If we forget what has occurred the trauma will return, perhaps in even more terrifying form.


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert Reich, is the Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, and a senior fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as secretary of labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time magazine named him one of the 10 most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. His book include:  "Aftershock" (2011), "The Work of Nations" (1992), "Beyond Outrage" (2012) and, "Saving Capitalism" (2016). He is also a founding editor of The American Prospect magazine, former chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." Reich's newest book is "The Common Good" (2019). He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Anti-War Veterans Group Issues Its Own 'Nuclear Posture Review'

Released ahead of a Biden administration report, the assessment warns that the danger of nuclear war is greater than ever.

Jessica Corbett ·


Critics Warn Puerto Rico Debt Plan Will Lead to More Austerity

"The island's ability to resume growth and avoid cuts in anti-poverty programs are both chief concerns," said one economic justice advocate.

Julia Conley ·


Faith Leaders, Rights Groups to Biden: End Immigration Detention

"People are losing their lives to a detention system that simply does not need to exist," said one immigrant rights advocate.

Kenny Stancil ·


Top 10 US Billionaires Got $1 Billion Richer Every Day of Pandemic

"Each made about the same in a single minute as the average American household earns in an entire year. This can't continue," said Americans for Tax Fairness.

Jake Johnson ·


360+ Climate Groups to Biden: Phase Out Fossil Fuels on Public Lands

"The natural place to start phasing out climate-destroying oil and gas production is on our public lands and oceans, and Biden has the authority to do so. If the U.S. leads, the world will follow."

Jenna McGuire ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo