Regardless of party, the Jan. 6 hearings ask Americans to put democracy first

Footage is viewed during a Jan. 6 House Select Committee hearing to show unseen video footage and taped depositions after a year-long investigation on Thursday, June 9, 2022.
Greg Nash
Footage is viewed during a Jan. 6 House Select Committee hearing to show unseen video footage and taped depositions after a year-long investigation on Thursday, June 9, 2022.

The first hearing by the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, violent attack on the U.S. Capitol presented new and compelling evidence of the actions by former President Donald Trump and his supporters to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election to keep him in office.

Long before the committee hearing, it was clear that Trump’s refusal to admit that he lost the election —  despite over 60 court rulings throwing out lawsuits challenging his defeat — fed baseless conspiracy theories that led to the Jan. 6 attack. The committee’s opening hearing presented yet more evidence documenting this fact, along with a horrific new video of the assault on the Capitol. 

The hearing made me recall the overwhelming sadness I felt, as a former congressional intern and staffer, a resident of the District of Columbia and as an American citizen, on the day the citadel of democracy was physically attacked and assaulted.

We all know there are losers in every election and at every level of government. I know from personal experience that losing is tough and often terribly painful because many of the candidates I worked my heart out to elect came up short and were defeated.

But it doesn’t matter if it’s a race for your local city council or the presidency, it’s important that you try to persuade voters to support your candidate. For me, I had to learn it the hard way, but it has stuck with me after serving as campaign manager for Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential race. Though we wanted a full accounting of the vote, as the loser, he conceded, wished the winner well, called for national unity and moved on. 

As Jan. 6 committee chairman Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) pointed out Thursday night, only Trump has refused to accept reality, in “an attempt to undermine the will of the people” with his Big Lie that he repeats to this day falsely claiming to have won reelection by a landslide. 

And only Trump summoned his supporters to Washington on the day Congress was scheduled to conduct the ceremonial counting of Electoral College votes and urged them to march to the Capitol in protest and “fight like hell.”

Only Trump urged his vice president to ignore the decision of voters in an effort to stay in power. Thankfully, Vice President Mike Pence placed his duty to uphold the Constitution over his loyalty to Trump and refused to disregard the lawful outcome of the election. 

There’s no question that the Jan. 6 attack would never have happened if Trump had conceded his defeat and not urged his supporters to come to Washington, not led a rally filled with lies and inflammatory comments on that terrible day, and not urged the crowd to fight to overturn the election of Joe Biden as president. 

We should all be grateful that Republican Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who serve on the Jan. 6 committee, are working with Democrats to demand a full accounting of the insurrection. They are examples of the leaders then-Sen. John F. Kennedy wrote about in his 1955 book “Profiles in Courage.” So are Pence and many others who served in the Trump administration. 

As citizens, we must salute them for their patriotism and determination to put America’s national interest and their loyalty to the Constitution ahead of politics. We need more like them.

Unfortunately, too many Republican elected officials have fallen in line in support of Trump’s Big Lie, denying reality and endorsing all sorts of cockamamie claims and wild conspiracy theories to support it. Their embrace of partisanship before patriotism is a sad commentary on our national disunity.

Democracy is fragile. If one party claims elections it loses must be rigged and seeks to overturn the results — as many Trump loyalists do — and the American people lose faith in our free elections, we face the danger of seeing our democracy further wounded and dying. God forbid if our leaders attain power by violence rather than by the ballot box.

I’ve spent most of my life in politics, but I’m not speaking as a partisan when I say the work of the Jan. 6 committee transcends politics. It’s in the interest of every American, regardless of political affiliation, to get to the bottom of the attempt to overturn the results of the free and fair 2020 presidential election. We must ensure this attack on our democracy is never repeated.

Regardless of party affiliation, I hope the vast majority of Americans will agree that our democracy is our most precious national asset. That’s because our government will remain the servant of the American people only as long as the power of the vote remains in the hands of the people.

Every American needs to pay close attention to the serious and bipartisan House committee hearings investigating the Jan. 6 attack. I certainly will. I look forward to hearing the committee’s conclusions about the timeline of events leading up to the attack, its finding on who orchestrated the attack and who should be held accountable, and its recommendations for improving security at the Capitol and our future electoral count.

We must never allow the rule of the people enshrined in our precious Constitution to be threatened by power-hungry politicians of either party who put their self-interest and lust for power above our national interest.

Donna Brazile is a political strategist, a contributor to ABC News and former chair of the Democratic National Committee. She is the author of “Hacks: Inside the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.”

Tags 2020 election Adam Kinzinger Al Gore American democracy Bennie Thompson Donald Trump Jan 6 committee jan 6 hearings Jan. 6 capitol riot Liz Cheney Mike Pence Politics of the United States

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