On July 4, we celebrated the dawn of American democracy. This past Tuesday, July 6, marked the half-year anniversary of the U.S. Capitol insurrection, which many mourned as the democracy’s sunset.
It was democracy itself, not simply the Capitol, that was under siege. People who faithfully remember Independence Day should never forget the day that our Capitol — the people’s House — was taken over by an angry mob.
If it had been solely up to Republicans, we likely would have already forgotten the onslaught against the democratic process or dismissed it as the behavior of unruly tourists. But Democrats and democracy prevailed.
Though they faced opposition from Republicans in the House, the Democratic majority voted in favor of legislation that would have created an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack.
Without a hint of irony, GOP senators blocked scrutiny into the invasion with another attack on democracy — the filibuster, which allows the minority of senators to undermine the majority’s will.
But Republican members of Congress opened the door to a broader investigation when they closed the door on a joint Senate and House commission. Under the leadership of House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiPelosi says House members would not vote on spending bill topline higher than Senate's McConnell privately urged GOP senators to oppose debt ceiling hike On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE (D-Calif.), members voted to form a special committee to examine the tragic incident.
The speaker has already appointed eight members of the panel. Rep. Bennie ThompsonBennie Gordon ThompsonThompson says he hopes Jan 6. committee can complete work by 'early spring' Jan. 6 committee taps former Bush administration official as top lawyer Overnight Defense & National Security: US-Australian sub deal causes rift with France MORE (D-Miss.) will chair it. After consulting with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin McCarthyThompson says he hopes Jan 6. committee can complete work by 'early spring' Juan Williams: Shame on the anti-mandate Republicans White House debates vaccines for air travel MORE (R-Calif.), she will pick five more members.
In the act of defiance against Republicans, Pelosi used one of her eight picks to appoint Rep. Elizabeth Cheney (R-Wyo.), a former member of the House GOP leadership, to the panel.
Cheney has been a persistent critic of former President Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE and his attempts to reverse the presidential election outcome. Her role on the fact-finding committee gives it a bipartisan cast, which will counteract attempts by the GOP to frame the inquiry as a witch hunt.
The House committee should get clear answers to the complicated questions that surround the assault. Inquiring minds want to know what led to the insurrection and, more importantly, prevent anything like it from happening in the future.
As pro-Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, McCarthy called the president, who, according to one account, said, “I guess those people are more upset about the election you are.”
It’s too soon to say exactly who is responsible for Jan. 6, and though members of both sides of the aisle will be sitting on the special committee, there’s no guarantee that they will get to the bottom of what happened leading up to the insurrection.
The democratic experiment that started on July 4, 1776, is still a work in progress after 245 years. Americans have reformed the system over that time to make the political process truly democratic and inclusive, but we still have a long way to go.
Hopefully, the House inquiry and public reaction against the insurrection will stimulate a resurrection of American democracy.
Brad Bannon is a Democratic pollster and CEO of Bannon Communications Research. He is also the host of a radio podcast “Deadline D.C. With Brad Bannon” that airs on the Progressive Voices Network. Follow him on Twitter @BradBannon.