Even the most zealous both-sides watcher should see by now that the fate of democracy has become a blatantly political issue. Anti-majoritarian abuses and potential manipulation of lawful election results are regarded as urgent, fundamental dangers by Democrats. They are, in general, increasingly fundamental to the Republican Party’s broader political goal.
Surprisingly, it has come to Mark Meadows, of all people, to affirm this emphatically. The former White House chief of staff’s appearance on Fox News on Monday night is just another stepping stone on the GOP’s road to dictatorship.
The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurgency instigated by his former employer, Donald Trump, has subpoenaed Meadows. He has not said whether or not he will appear in court this week.
Meadows, on the other hand, understands Fox is always accessible as a safe place to pre-spin a highly propagandized narrative about Jan. 6 and Trump’s involvement in it, so Fox is clearly preferred as a forum.
Meadows and presenter Laura Ingraham had an odd conversation about Fiona Hill, a former US ambassador. Hill said unequivocally on Sunday that the “main threats” to democracy come from right-wing individuals who intentionally undermine trust in the “integrity of the election system” and “calling for violence against fellow Americans.”
“Hill has already shown her colors out there in who she sided with,” Meadows sneered. Inexcusably, he framed this as a political shield for President Biden.
Meadows also rejected the fundamental purpose of the Jan. 6 committee. “Why did we go through an impeachment of Donald Trump on this very issue, and now we’re holding hearings,” he claims people are asking.
As it happens, it is only the Democratic view that the right wing and the Trump movement are our main dangers to democratic stability, and that changes are urgently required to protect against them in the future.
However, this is because Republicans have generally rejected any responsibility to hold individuals on their side responsible for the attempt to destabilize US democracy, first via dishonest and potentially criminal procedural methods, and then through mob violence. It’s because Republicans have taken on the party-wide goal of whitewashing, erasing, and generally rewriting history.
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We have arrived at the point where only Democrats believe that the whole truth about all of this should be revealed, and that it necessitates a national reckoning and reaction.
Take a look at that scoff at the mere notion that Trumpists would erode trust in our elections. What nonsense! Except that Trump again repeated his stolen election falsehood this weekend, and the No. 2 House Republican refused to declare the 2020 result was genuine.
We just discovered that a Trump lawyer penned a coup letter encouraging Vice President Mike Pence to disregard federal law in order to toss the election to Trump, and that Pence really entertained the idea. Meadows, on the other hand, believes that none of this is worth knowing more about.
Meadows doesn’t want us to find out what it is. We know Meadows personally lobbied the Justice Department to look into Trump’s false claims about election fraud. Getting the department to validate such falsehoods would offer a pretext for a plan similar to the one outlined in the Trump coup document.
The Jan. 6 committee wants to hear more about it, as well as Meadows’ role in plotting the attempt to rig the election and any contacts between Trump and others on or around Jan. 6.
So Meadows clearly doesn’t want us to discover more about Trump’s and other co-conspirators’ full insurrectionist plans — which are likely to involve Republican legislators — or the extent to which Meadows himself may have been one of those co-conspirators.
Needless to say, a party thus thoroughly devoted to Trump’s total exoneration does not regard this attempt to destabilize US democracy as worthy of any national reckoning. The party will not support any changes to prevent it from occurring again, such as clarifying ambiguities in the Electoral Count Act.
Meanwhile, Republicans are increasingly seeking for office with the intention of averting future electoral defeats. Others claim that backing for Trump’s 2020 falsehoods qualifies them for positions of power over electoral equipment.
All of this is worsened by Dan Pfeiffer’s discovered dynamic. One party has a full-time propaganda network, which relieves it of the need to communicate with voters through the mainstream media, which defends itself against accusations of liberal bias by treating even the most lopsided asymmetries as conventional political skirmishes with two equally legitimate sides.
The other half of the media ("MSM") devotes itself to defending against accusations of bias from the right. What reaches voters is both-sides stories of partisan dysfunction. So one half the media is saying "Dems are broken." The other half is saying "Washington is broken."
— David Roberts (@drvolts) October 10, 2021
This is how Fox News gets to broadcast whitewashing propaganda about January 6, even as major news outlets question if it would be a damaging violation of norms if Biden rejects Trump’s executive privilege claims and grants the committee access to executive branch records. This, when what is on display is an attempt to undermine democracy at its core.
Meadows unintentionally caught an important truth: the idea that a prolonged attempt to destabilize US democracy necessitates a serious reckoning and reaction has become solely the Democratic Party stance. But what does this say about the Republican Party?