Reviews | The January 6 hearings did not stop the GOP’s anti-democracy movement
Here are seven such actions, all taken since June 9. (There are many more I could have pointed out.) Wisconsin Supreme Court conservatives have come out in favor of a plan by the state’s GOP-controlled legislature to shut down the Democratic government. . Tony Evers not only to appoint his picks to state boards and commissions, but also, in some cases, to force him to keep the picks of his predecessor, Republican Scott Walker, in place. These Wisconsin judges also banned the use of ballot boxes. Georgia Republican Senate candidate Herschel Walker began refusing to engage in nominee debates. U.S. House Republican leaders, who have not released a list of policies they would adopt if they win a majority in November, have made a firm commitment: full investigations into Hunter Biden and others members of the president’s family.
Florida Republicans banned some reporters from mainstream media publications from a recent party conference while admitting those from right-wing outlets. Pennsylvania’s election agency was forced to file a lawsuit to have three GOP-controlled counties count mail-in ballots from recent primaries. Indiana’s Republican attorney general has opened an investigation into a state doctor after he performed an abortion on a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who had been raped.
Opinion: I offer abortions in Indiana. I don’t believe in turning away patients.
I mentioned June 9 for a specific reason: it was the start of congressional hearings on the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. The hearings describe a huge anti-democratic movement – the attempt by Trump and his allies to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. And they show how it was stopped: Trump rightfully lost the election to Joe Biden ; institutions, such as the news media and the courts, actively opposed his moves; some people, including longtime Republicans and people close to the president, refused to follow or blocked the program.
Unlike January 6, these smaller-scale anti-democratic actions are often successful. That’s partly because they’re not as cheeky. Trump’s decisions before and on Jan. 6 obviously and rightly generated more backlash than Republicans in Florida who blocked reporters from hearing their speeches or judges in Wisconsin not allowing voters to use the urns.
But there are also structural differences that facilitate the erosion of democracy at the local and state levels compared to the national level. In the red states where many of these undemocratic actions are taking place, gerrymandering and voter hatred of the Democratic Party means that, unlike Trump, GOP officials in those states basically cannot lose power no matter what. their misbehavior.
Nationally, there are political and economic incentives for Republicans who oppose the party’s antidemocratic turn to speak out. For example, Alyssa Farah Griffin, Trump’s former communications director, became a critic of the ex-president and is now a political commentator for CNN and would soon have a hosting role on ABC’s “The View.” But a Texas Republican staffer who publicly berates Gov. Greg Abbott is unlikely to end up with two high-profile TV gigs. Additionally, the news media covering Washington remains quite large and able to scrutinize public officials, while local and state media continue to decline in size and influence.
Tens of millions of Americans watched the January 6 hearings, but I suspect many of them have never heard of the seven undemocratic GOP actions I’ve outlined above or many others, even those that have occurred in the states and cities where they live. And that’s a big problem. I fear that anti-Trump politicians and the media, by focusing on Trump and January 6, have created the impression that America’s anti-democratic movement is centered on one man and one day.
In fact, anti-democratic sentiments were rising within the Republican Party long before Trump became its leader. In 2013, Republicans in North Carolina passed an election law that a federal court later ruled had, with “surgical precision”, attempted to make it harder for black people to vote.
And, as all these incidents during the hearings show, those feelings continue to build in the party – and continue to turn into actions.
The greatest danger to American democracy is if Donald Trump or some figure like him pulls off something bold and extreme like January 6th. But an almost equally significant danger is that a group of mini-Trumps, some of whom you’ve never heard of, take several hundred actions, most of which you’ll never learn of, that create gradually either one national government or 25-30 state governments where elections are rigged by gerrymandering and voting restrictions, where media coverage and other forms of public accountability are non-existent, and where people worry reprisals if they disagree with their political leaders.
America arrested Trump on January 6. But we are not stopping Trumpism yet.