Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

january-6-attack

Trump supporters storm the U.S. Capitol following a rally with President Donald Trump on January 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images)

Jan. 6 Hearings: Is It Too Late to Save Our Democracy?

Defending democracy should be as popular as apple pie—but it won't be. The committee will face a right-wing media complex that will no doubt ignore its evidence and savage its conclusions.

Jesse Jackson

 by Chicago Sun-Times

On Thursday evening, the House Select Committee investigating the sacking of the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 will hold the first of its prime-time, televised public hearings. The committee has done an exhaustive investigation, interviewing a thousand witnesses, looking at tens of thousands of documents.

The committee will face a right-wing media complex—Fox News, Newsmax, the QAnon network and legions of poisonous talk radio hosts—that will no doubt ignore its evidence and savage its conclusions.

The hearings will reveal new information about what was, in fact, a multi-layered effort to overturn the results of a presidential election, driven by the White House and involving Republican legislators, operatives, state officials, and donors. The hearings will ask every American to understand how vulnerable our democracy is, and how close we came to losing it.

The question, of course, is whether it is too late to save our democracy. Donald Trump has persisted in propagating his Big Lie about the election, despite the fact that court after court, many times judges appointed by Trump, his own attorney general and Justice Department, and partisan audits of votes in several states universally found no evidence of fraud that could have come close to making a difference in the election result.

No matter. Trump has persisted, the right-wing media led by Fox News has echoed his claims, and today, two-thirds of Republican voters say Joe Biden is not the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election and the election was stolen from Trump. Many Republicans join Trump in praising as patriots those who sacked the Capitol.

The Big Lie goes even further than this. Across the country, in the Congress and in the states, Republican officials have systematically blocked efforts to strengthen our electoral system, and instead, in states where they have power, have passed a range of measures to make voting more difficult.

Driven by Trump, they have also supported extremists for what used to be nonpartisan posts in charge of the administration of elections. In some states, they have given the Republican legislatures greater power to overturn the results of the elections. By 2024, Republicans in about 20 states will be primed and eager to ensure that their candidate wins—no matter what the voters say.

In Congress, Republicans have filibustered attempts to reform our electoral laws to make clear how the electoral college works and how it must reflect the votes of the people. They have filibustered against attempts to set federal standards for voting that would make registration and voting far easier. They have even blocked efforts to revive the Voting Rights Act, the keystone of the civil rights movement that was gutted by five right-wing, Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices.

The last time the Voting Rights Act was re-authorized, it received nearly universal bipartisan support in the House and Senate. No more. Now, ensuring the right of Blacks to vote meets with partisan opposition.

There's the rub. Republicans in polls say that they believe that votes are counted honestly in states that vote Republican, in rural and suburban areas where Republicans congregate. They say that fraud takes place in urban areas—areas where Blacks and Hispanics live. Mail-in ballots, which Trump objects to, are fine in Republican areas, but somehow illegitimate in urban areas. When senior citizens used mail-in ballots, there was no problem. Now that more African Americans and Hispanics use them, they are viewed as suspect.

These fears are compounded by the so-called "replacement theory," a favorite of the right-wing media. The replacement theory essentially argues that Black, Hispanic and Asian American votes are tainted because Democrats allegedly are plotting to use immigrants to "replace" white majorities.

America, in this view, must remain a white, Christian, male-dominated country. And if that takes subverting the democracy to ensure that the minority can rule, so be it.

The Jan. 6 congressional committee hearings are, in many ways, a plea for Americans to defend their democracy. This should be as popular as apple pie—but it won't be. The committee will face a right-wing media complex—Fox News, Newsmax, the QAnon network and legions of poisonous talk radio hosts —that will no doubt ignore its evidence and savage its conclusions. More than eight in 10 Republicans who get their news from Fox News believe the election was stolen.

America has experienced brutal battles over its democracy before. The Civil War was fought over whether the United States would remain united and free. The civil rights movement had to overcome entrenched resistance to end apartheid Jim Crow in the South. Now democracy is at stake once more. Will Americans again rally to defend our democracy or will they succumb to a Big Lie grounded in racial animus that will drive our country apart? The Jan. 6 committee hearings are yet another chapter in that ongoing battle.


© 2021 Chicago Sun-Times
Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson

Jesse Jackson is an African-American civil rights activist and Baptist minister. He was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984 and 1988 and served as shadow senator for the District of Columbia from 1991 to 1997. He was the founder of both entities that merged to form the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.

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.

Dems Threaten to Subpoena FTI Consulting Over 'Blanket Refusal' to Provide Info on Fossil Fuel Work

"FTI's refusal to cooperate with this congressional inquiry shows that they have something to hide, which will reveal the dangerous ways agencies like theirs have promoted fossil fuel greenwash and misinformation," said the Clean Creatives campaign's leader.

Jessica Corbett ·


Bad Day for DeSantis as 'Stop WOKE Act' Hit With Injunction, Lawsuit

"If Florida truly believes we live in a post-racial society, then let it make its case," a federal judge wrote in blocking part of the controversial law. "But it cannot win the argument by muzzling its opponents."

Brett Wilkins ·


US Judge Says Mar-a-Lago Affidavit 'Can Be Unsealed' With Redactions

"This is going to be a considered, careful process, where everybody's rights, the government's and the media's, will be protected," declared U.S. Magistrate Judge Bruce Reinhart.

Jessica Corbett ·


Federal Judge Orders Starbucks to Rehire Fired Union Organizers in Memphis

"It was a ruling in favor of what's right," said one member of the Memphis Seven. "We knew from day one that we were going to win this, it just took time."

Brett Wilkins ·


Activists Arrested While Protesting 'Dirty Pipeline Deal' Outside Schumer's Office

"Sen. Schumer is sacrificing frontline communities and our clean energy future, all to placate a coal baron," said one organizer, referring to the majority leader's side agreement with Sen. Joe Manchin.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo