There is no doubt that we need to understand what happened on January 6.
One of the reasons why airplanes are so safe is because whenever ANYTHING goes wrong we do whatever it takes to investigate what happened. That is the way to make sure it never happens again. That is how we keep people safe. The truth. And it’s just as important in keeping democracy safe. And keeping America free.
There is no doubt that the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6 was a grave threat to our democracy, one of the worst our nation has ever experienced in peacetime. It was not only the events of that day, but all that preceded it. The lies. The fueling of misguided anger. The undermining of free and fair elections. Those cancers to our body politic have only metastasized in the months since, encouraged by a would-be autocrat sulking in Florida and the political cult he leads bending to his shameless and self-serving will.
There is no doubt that we need to understand what happened on January 6. It is not a point upon which those who believe in American ideals can disagree. We can debate the scope, scale, and make-up of a commission. But the notion that we should not have one —that we should just whistle and walk on by— is anathema to the rule of law and, frankly, common sense. We need answers. We need accountability. It’s the least the American people deserve. It’s what history demands.
It is a sad indictment of our current political reality that news that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will come out against a 1/6 Commission is treated as unsurprising. It is a stance born from a fear of where this commission’s findings will likely lead —a wholesale indictment of a cult to which McConnell and his compatriots in the House and Senate have pledged servile fealty.
Let's boil this down to one simple question, and let me paraphrase that famous line from the film A Few Good Men. Can the Republican Party handle the truth? And what is this truth? It's not complicated. Joe Biden won the presidential election in 2020. It wasn't close. It was a fair and free election. But let's not kid ourselves, many Republicans have been allergic to the truth for a long time —on climate change, on guns, on racial justice, on the pandemic, on a whole host of issues.
These people go every night to the Ayn Rand Disneyland of Fox News. They bathe in the conspiracy-theory swamp of Facebook. They pick fights with straw men. But the rest of the country, the rest of the world, has no choice but to live in reality.
I want to live in a democratic republic guided by the rule of law. And the truth. I want a government that tackles our big challenges and doesn't play footsie with white supremacists. I can handle the truth. I want my country to handle the truth —even, and especially, when it’s ugly. We have no choice but to do that if we want to continue to thrive as a nation. I think some Republicans are starting to realize that. We will see how many oppose the leadership on this. This could split the party. Just look at the fate of Liz Cheney, for example. So be it. I'm more worried about splitting apart the country.
Faced with Republican complicity and cowardice, those who still want to live in reality have no choice but to push forward. Democrats control both houses of Congress and can hold high-profile Congressional hearings, even if a commission isn’t created. They can follow the evidence and create a record for history. The Republicans will undoubtedly frame these as partisan witch hunts. But once there are public hearings and deep investigations there is no telling what will come out.
And then there is the role of the press. With Republican leaders parroting the Big Lie, journalists have no obligation to give them the benefit of the doubt on the truth. From Capitol Hill to investigative reporting at the state and local level, there should be every effort made to put the pieces of what happened together. Elected officials who wish to whitewash the attempted coup should face hard questions and hard follow-ups in the face of the inevitable prevarications.
This will likely lead to a lot of attacks on the “mainstream press” for being “biased.” So be it. Getting to what really happened on January 6, and then following that story to wherever it naturally leads, is journalism at its most noble. It is about the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If we fail to do that, then we have failed ourselves and our country.