Jan. 6 was a shameful day but not a conspiracy, and the GOP is poised for victory in November
By Gary Abernathy
Trump deserves blame, but the Republican Party is fine
Naturally, Thursday is being filled with lots of coverage about the events of a year ago on Jan. 6, 2021, when the U.S. Capitol was stormed by rioters supporting then-President Donald Trump and protesting the results of the 2020 election, trying to stop a constitutionally mandated count of the electoral college.
I’ve participated in a few of the media conversations discussing Jan. 6, including a segment for the “PBS NewsHour” airing tonight, and radio interviews today with the BBC World Service and “Talkline” with Hoppy Kercheval on WVMetroNews. You can hear and watch the “Talkline” interview above, and tune into “NewsHour” tonight on PBS — where my take is definitely the minority viewpoint among the panelists on hand.
My consistent take has been that Jan. 6 was a shameful day in American history, but while Trump is politically culpable for the riot, he is not legally responsible. My main feeling toward Trump is anger — anger as someone who supported his presidency, remains glad that he was president, but can no longer support him because of his refusal to accept the election results, which led to the events of Jan. 6.
But trying to make the riot seem like some part of a big conspiracy is not backed up by the facts. The Washington Post recently did a deep dive into the federal charges against the hundreds of people who have been indicted for the riot. Here’s what it found:
A Washington Post review of court records last year found that the vast majority of those charged federally were not known to be part of far-right groups or premeditated conspiracies to attack the Capitol. Instead, they were mostly everyday Americans, including community leaders and small-business owners, who appeared to believe Trump’s false claims of election fraud and gathered in Washington to protest or try to stop the congressional certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
There’s an effort underway to smear the Republican Party both for Jan. 6 and for its continued support of Trump. President Joe Biden made such insinuations during his remarks Thursday morning. Biden’s comments were justifiably strong when they focused on Trump, but he and Vice President Kamala Harris veered into politicking when they smeared the GOP as a whole and tried connecting a federal voting bill they’re pushing to the events of Jan. 6.
Most people aren’t buying it, as polls right now show a likely Republican tidal wave this November. That could change, but as of today the Republican Party is not seen by most Americans as being filled with racists, cultists or Nazis, as some on the left try to paint it. Americans are getting ready to vote Republican in November. As the Associated Press reported this week:
Not long ago, the Republican Party was hitting bottom. The GOP had lost the presidency and House in November 2020 and would soon squander its Senate majority early in 2021 — then watch with horror as supporters of then-President Donald Trump stormed the U.S. Capitol last Jan. 6. What a difference a year makes. A resurgent GOP is now poised to reclaim one or both congressional chambers in 2022 while retaining its lock on dozens of state legislatures and governor’s offices. Republican confidence is fueled by President Joe Biden’s underwhelming poll numbers, a Democratic economic and social agenda that’s faltering, intensifying concerns about inflation, and deepening frustration with the pandemic now unleashing yet another infection surge.
The one constant that will always be true in politics is that the pendulum never stops swinging — left, right, left, right… on and on, forever.
Suspended from social media? Consider being grateful.
The news that both Twitter and Facebook have suspended the accounts of Marjorie Taylor Greene, Republican congresswoman from Georgia, is another example of the nonsense that is social media.
I have no sympathy for Greene, who strikes me as way over the top. She says nutty things, in my opinion. But guess what? The world can survive people saying nutty things. We’ve been surviving it for centuries. We can even survive “misinformation” — on covid or anything else. More frightening than “misinformation” is the support of major media outlets for having voices and opinions silenced.
Let’s give most Americans credit for understanding the source of information or claims, and the weight they assign to what they read based on the source. On covid, for instance, information that comes from credible doctors and scientists is one thing. Information that comes from far right or far left politicians is another thing. People can separate it for themselves. They don’t need social media giants playing the role of their protectors, shielding them from harm. It’s ridiculous.
Wouldn’t it be fun to start a new social media platform just to enjoy the fun of playing the role of the all-powerful Social Media Deity who gets to decide who gets suspended?
By the way, social media gets an outsized amount of attention compared to how reflective it is of society in general. A 2019 Pew Institute study offers a good example. It found that “much of the content posted by Americans on Twitter reflects a small number of authors. The 10% of users who are most active in terms of tweeting are responsible for 80% of all tweets created by U.S. users.”
Got that? Eighty percent of all tweets come from just 10 percent of people who have Twitter accounts.
Consider this: According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are about 258 million adults in the U.S. Pew found that about 22 percent of them have Twitter accounts. That’s nearly 57 million adults. But only 10 percent actively tweet most of the time. Ten percent of 57 million is 5.7 million . So that’s 5.7 million Americans actually doing most of the posting on Twitter, compared to the overall population of 258 million adults. That’s only about two percent of the U.S. population doing most Twitter posts — and yet, the media reports Twitter reactions to various events as though they are representative of America in general. They are not.
I closed down my Facebook account a couple of months ago, and the only reason I maintain a Twitter account is for professional reasons (at the request of others) — but it serves no real-world purpose.
Advice: If you ever get suspended from Twitter or Facebook, consider it an opportunity to just stay off it and rejoin the real world.
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I appreciated your comments on the pbs news hour segment this week. You were decidedly in the minority. Thank you for lending your voice (of reason) to the discussion. Otherwise, I would have tuned out.
Are you providing evidence to the 1/6 committee and DoJ?