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This Is American Democracy’s Last Chance

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How do you feel about the January 6 Committee hearings? Here’s a remarkable statistic — one of the most remarkable ones in American history, if you ask me. 60% of Americans think the former President should be charged. Criminally. For attempting a coup.

Whew. That’s quite a number.

When the hearings began, pundits took the cynical line they so often do — and train their readers to do, too. How is apathy born in American politics? Because pundits keep repeating the idea that nothing matters, because nobody can do anything. That’s great — for them. It keeps people hooked on despair. And so pundits were quick to conclude: so what? Nobody’s going to watch anyways!

But something remarkable is happening. People are watching the hearings. They are forming their own conclusions. And 60% of them seem to have reached a conclusion unprecedented in American history: charge the former President. Throw the book at him. Forget about impeachment. Let’s get serious, and let’s get real. This was a crime. The blood spilt on the steps of the Capitol. Trying to slit democracy’s throat. Attempting to overturn an election. Charge him.

All that matters, and it matters intensely.

Why? Well, think about just how worried about the midterms anyone vaguely sane is right about now. What happens if the lunatics win?

Those two things — the J6C and what happens next in American democracy — have everything to do with each other. How so?

When Jan 6th happened, I issued a certain warning. American democracy wouldn’t get another chance. I warned that the coup had barely failed — it was a minor miracle there wasn’t a massacre, and that was due to a handful of brave officers. The J6C has vindicated “alarmists” like me — and you — and made the usual coterie of pundits look like doddering fools. Yes, there really was almost a massacre. Yes, the paramilitaries wanted to kill the Vice President and the leader of the opposition. To overturn an election. It almost happened.

Nations don’t often get second chances. Maybe the gods smiled on America that day — despite the brutality and violence. Because, in the end, by the skin of its teeth, the merest remnants of democracy survived, battered, torn, bleeding. But still there.

Yet this was it. There wasn’t going to be another chance. The lunatics and fascists and theocrats would learn from their failure, as they do, and next time — success. Bang. Democracy, gone.

If you’re watching America, you know that this literally happening in plain sight. The theocrats are about to snatch women’s bodily autonomy away from them — and then they’re coming for gays. Kids can’t say “gay” in their graduation speeches. Some states have tip lines to turn in families and teachers.

And arching above all that is the larger plan for not just one January 6th, but a hundred, a thousand. The lunatics and fascists did learn. They reasoned that if a top-down coup didn’t work, maybe a hundred from the bottom up would. So in state after state, they’re contesting offices to do with the election itself — counting votes, certifying them, turning popular votes into slates of electors, certifying those. They’re seizing the power to undo American democracy from within, just like on Jan 6th — but at the local level. This is really, really, really crucial for every American to understand, so let me make it even clearer.

On Jan 6th, Trump’s idea was to overturn democracy by stopping the counting of electoral votes. Scholars and survivors of authoritarianism like, Sarah Kendzior, Ruth Ben Ghiat, Jared Sexton — a long list — had warned that this was going to happen for months by then. That American democracy’s Achilles heel was its archaic electoral system. Certain offices had to certify and count votes — from Secretaries of State right up to the Vice President.

The Trumpets learned from their failure. They learned they couldn’t depend on one person — Mike Pence — to overturn an election. So they reasoned that instead, if they had a hundred people in the right office, a thousand — then they could probably succeed. Even if a handful of those loyalists wouldn’t, in the end, turn, like Mike Pence — well, the other two or three or five hundred would. There go this state’s votes, that city’s, this town’s. Bang. Enough to tilt democracy and overturn an election.

Their plan isn’t one January 6th — it’s fifty of them. One in each state. And all it will take is a for a tiny, tiny handful of those to succeed — three, five, seven — and there goes American democracy, for good.

Arching above all that, looming like a sinister giant atop it, is a captured, malign, caricature of a Supreme Court. It’s literally packed with crazies — a woman who belongs to a cult that demands submission to men, an alleged serial sexual predator with mysterious debts, the list goes on. All they have to do is step aside — and the plan comes to fruition.

Now that I’ve connected a few of those dots, let me warn again.

The plan this time around isn’t just on January 6th. It’s 50 of them. One in each state — until the lunatics get what they want, which is the end of democracy, slitting its throat from within.

Think of this time around like this. America’s lunatics — its fascists, theocrats, authoritarians, literal Nazis, have formed some kind of weird alien super creature. A parasite. One that’s slithering inside democracy’s body. And whose only goal in life is to use its rows of teeth to slices democracy’s jugular open by crawling up its windpipe.

Gross, right?

I use this disgusting analogy for a reason. Alarmed yet? You should be.

They went right back to square one. One Jan 6th didn’t work? Let’s try fifty. Let’s crawl up democracy’s throat, and rip its jugular open from inside.

Now let’s come back to the J6C. What is it really doing?

The J6C is openly, powerfully calling for prosecution by making a case that’s so damning even the Devil’s shaking his head in hell. “Really, dude? You did all that?” It is nakedly, aggressively making an explosive, incendiary, obvious case for prosecution. Criminal prosecution. That all that happened that fateful, terrible day was no mere “riot” or “protest” — but a crime. A “conspiracy” to enact a “sophisticated, multi-part plan” to “overturn the election” — and the President was “at the center.”

Americans may be many things. But even a child can understand that that’s about the most transparent call for criminal prosecution there’s been since, I don’t know, they sent Napoleon to Elba. It couldn’t be more obvious.

The only person in America who doesn’t get all that — or is pretending not to — is the Attorney General. He’s as quiet as a church mouse. Drop a pin in the sepulchral silence of Merrick Garland’s Justice Department. Nobody clap your hands in a hundred mile radius — Rip Van Merrick Garland might wake up. LOL — I kid, but only kind of.

Watching the J6C hearings, Americans have done something they almost never do. They’ve changed their minds. Before, only a minority of them believed the President should be charged with a crime, and prosecuted for it. Now, a majority of them do. That’s almost unprecedented. Americans never change their minds. They haven’t on anything — guns, healthcare, etcetera, the usual issues which continue to divide the country. Those divisions might as well have been forged by Merlin and the druids way back when, out of adamantine, so enduring and unbreakable do they seem. And yet on this issue, amazingly enough, Americans have changed their minds, and now a solid, solid majority of them — 60% — agree: throw the book at this guy. They can smell the sweet, sweet fragrance of RICO charges wafting through the summer heat.

Now let’s connect all those dots.

What is the J6C trying to do? It’s trying to save American democracy. By setting a precedent. They are saying Jan 6th was a crime. They are saying the President should be charged, and prosecuted, to the fullest extent of the law. Those are scary, scary words, which is why Trump is acting out, throwing tantrums, hurling lightning bolts on social media like Zeus of the idiots. He’s terrified, as well he should be, because when the US government comes for you, my friend, there is no hiding, and usually no mercy, either.

Remember when I said the plan now — their plan, the lunatics and fascists and theocrats — isn’t one Jan 6th, it’s 50 of them? What the J6C is trying to do is set the precedent that the first Jan 6th was illegal. And so what would 50 of them be? Even more illegal. It’s trying to deter the bad guys from enacting their plan before it’s too late. It’s warning all the people in on this latest round of the plan — which hasn’t really gone anywhere — if you do what you look like you’re about to do, which is interfere with the election, we have already set the precedent. To take you down. For a very, very serious crime. You will be charged and prosecuted. You won’t get away with it. We came after a President. You? You’re nobody and nothing by comparison. How do you think you’ll fare? Want to throw your life away? Enjoy being bankrupt? Prison life sound appealing?

Go right ahead. We dare you.

That’s why the work of the J6C matter so intensely. For all those reasons. It’s setting a precedent, to deter the the plan to overturn the next election, which isn’t one but 50 Jan 6ths, one in each state. It’s persuading Americans to change their minds, which is something so rare it almost never happens. It’s aiming thunderclap after thunderclap at Rip Van Garland, trying to rouse that poor idiot from his slumber. And if all that comes together? Well, my friends, maybe, just maybe, American democracy has a slender thread of chance.

Maybe, just maybe, it survives — even if battered, bruised, and bloodied. Something like a soldier on the beach at Normandy. Who will never, ever forget that day.

 

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This is a crucial moment in American history. Perhaps the most crucial. For once, the news is good. Americans are being attentive, and they are understanding the gravity of what happened. The Committee isn’t just teaching them that Jan 6th was a crime — it’s work is even more important than that, about deterring the lunatics from attempting the next crime, which is the one aimed at slitting democracy’s throat from the inside, the fascists and lunatics climbing up its windpipe like an alien creature, and ripping its jugular apart with their teeth, fifty times over.

I’m not going to tell you that it’s a done deal American democracy will make it. Of course it’s not. The chances are slim, still. But they are rising now, from practically zero, to somewhere a little bit more than that. And you know what, my friends? There’s something about us Americans. When the chips are down? When the engines have stalled? That’s when we’re at our best. We don’t give up.

The bad guys say: this is all we are, and ever were. Americans. Hate, spite, violence, fascism, supremacy. All we ever can be. You know what? Maybe that’s not true. And the J6C is reminding and teaching all of us that it doesn’t have to be true. In that way, maybe, maybe it’s reviving the sleeping American spirit.

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