January 6: Two Years Later, House Speaker Vote Held Hostage by Election Deniers
“Tonight, I say this to my Republican colleagues who are defending the indefensible: There will come a day when Donald Trump is gone, but your dishonor will remain.” -Rep. Liz Cheney, June 9, 2022 (vice-chair of January 6 Select Committee)
“If this is not a crime, I don’t know what is. If a president can incite an insurrection and not be held accountable, then really there’s no limit to what a president can do or can’t do.” -Rep. Adam Kinzinger (member, January 6 Select Committee)
Americans learned two years ago how vulnerable our government was – a democracy that most of us took for granted as rock solid because it had stood for over 200 years. The last thing I think most expected was that our democracy would be assaulted with an inside attack by Republicans who then defended those involved and refused to stand up for the Constitution. Friendly fire, so to speak.
Today, on the second anniversary of that dark day in American history, the irony is that the same group of election deniers is holding Congress hostage as we enter Day 4 and Round 12 of voting for a House Speaker.
Even with 200 Republican representatives who have consistently voted for Kevin McCarthy, there are 20-21 far right-wing fringers who are roadblocking any progress to reach the 218-vote minimum needed and, as a result, the House is at a standstill. No swearing-in for members whose families were there earlier in the week, no business of the country moving forward (or at a standstill, as it may be), staffers in limbo … as Adam Kinzinger quipped, does this mean he’s still a congressman?
However, on the very first day, even without a Speaker, the Republican majority removed metal detectors that were put in place after the violence of January 6, 2021.
But the reality is Kevin McCarthy enabled this when he trekked to Mar-a-Lago three weeks after the January 6 attack, after at first condemning the riot. He kissed the ring and breathed new life into the MAGA loyalists who refused to believe a legitimate 2020 presidential election saw America choose Joe Biden … and here we are. A living, breathing example that no matter what McCarthy does to placate these people, they will never accept him because, to them, he is the establishment and to them that’s the same as the devil himself. And that is how these people are – you either walk 100 percent lockstep with them, or you’re out.
Sidenote: “Despite his best efforts, the leopards have finally come for Kevin McCarthy’s face. For those not extremely online, I’m referring to a 2015 tweet from YA novelist Adrian Bott: ‘I never thought leopards would eat MY face,’ sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party.” (Vanity Fair)
McCarthy’s further sin was turning on Rep. Liz Cheney who was #3 in the GOP caucus leadership, leading the charge to remove her from that leadership position and then again leading the charge to remove her from the Congressional seat by endorsing her opponent in November 2022 and leading the majority of the House caucus to do the same.
McCarthy has sold his political soul to people who detest him. He wants the speakership so badly that he has bent over backward and given excessive concessions to the crazy Freedom Caucus members – Bob Good of Virginia, Boebert of Colorado, Gaetz of Florida, along with 17-18 of their cohorts. In the process, he lost his dignity and surrendered his principles while caving to the most radical of the GOP caucus.
Sidenote: “Leading up to his public humiliation, McCarthy had tried everything from threats to appeasement to donations—literally, donating to 17 out of the 20 congresspeople who then prevented him from becoming Speaker. (Well, buying off members of MAGA-world seemed like a good strategy.) You’ll remember that McCarthy went down to Mar-a-Lago to pose for photos with Trump less than a month after the former president incited the January 6 insurrection. McCarthy did everything he could to placate MAGA, but perhaps because of his close proximity to Trump, or in spite of it, the leopards came for his face anyway. Even Trump’s call on Wednesday morning to back McCarthy didn’t work, as he lost a fourth and fifth vote hours later.” –Vanity Fair
But what about the rest of us? We are watching McCarthy grovel and hand over concessions that will hurt us and democracy as we move forward. Anyone who was involved with January 6 should be denied leadership positions; in fact, they should not even be in Congress after turning on their own country, and us.
On the one-year anniversary in 2021, as Democrats remembered the violent attack on the U.S. Capitol a year earlier, Republicans were MIA with the exception of Wyoming Republican Rep. Liz Cheney, who served on the January 6 Select Committee, and her father, former Representative and Vice President Dick Cheney.
Sidenote: As I searched for links at the January 6 Select Committee website this morning, the site appears to have been removed.
The chaos that the speaker vote is causing is the whole point for the obstructionists. As the my-way-or-the-highway Good from Virginia’s 5th District said yesterday, he is a never-Kevin vote so no matter how many concessions are made, Good will not be on board. But that follows his pattern of obstructionism instead of governing.
Sidenote: For my reps, I prefer governing, finding common ground, and compromise. For anyone who is married, that’s the way it works. No one gets their way all the time.
On January 6, 2021, I had tuned in to watch the 2020 presidential election vote certification that was scheduled to take place at 1:00 pm in the Capitol. What unfolded in real time was a mob that marched from Trump’s rally to the Capitol steps, the beginning of a riot that broke through barriers while brandishing whatever they could use as weapons to attack Capitol Police, break out windows and bash in doors to enter our historic seat of government to vandalize and terrorize.
Chanting, “Hang Mike Pence,” and prowling the hallways shouting for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it was baffling and disturbing as we watched the wildly outnumbered police officers being attacked by fellow Americans and wondered, “Where is the military? Where is backup? Where is the FBI?” We couldn’t understand why the Capitol and our representatives inside were so vulnerable to this domestic terrorist attack.
Sidenote: Capitol and Metropolitan police officers were outnumbered 58 to 1 on January 6, 2021, according to former U.S. Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund (Courage Under Fire: Under Siege and Outnumbered 58 to 1 on January 6). He warned that the Capitol still is not secure.
Thank God for the police force that stood up to the mob of insurrectionists and protected those inside the Capitol – reps, staff, visitors – and for members of the Trump administration who stood by the rule of law as revealed by the January 6 Committee. And thank God for people like Republicans Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, and House Democrats for having a backbone to form the January 6 Select Committee to investigate the attack that the GOP wants to just sweep under the carpet.
Back to today’s task at hand … if not McCarthy for Speaker, then who? No one seems to have much of an answer, not even those opposed to McCarthy. Word is there’s a 10:15am GOP caucus phone conference today before the House reconvenes at noon.
DO NOT FORGET January 6. Now, as the GOP takes over the House majority for the next two years, we must remain vigilant to prevent an attempt to whitewash history about that sad, violent day. Buckle your seatbelts … it’s going to be a bumpy two years with boat loads of chaos manufactured on the right side of the aisle instead of the governing leadership that is needed and would, quite frankly, go a long way toward restoring the GOP to a respectable party once again.
Highlights of Bearing Drift coverage of January 6: