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U.S. democracy more at risk one year after January 6 Capitol riots

David Pakman
Liberal Opinion

David Pakman

Host of The David Pakman Show
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Has anything changed one year after the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021? As federal officials conduct the largest criminal investigation in FBI history as a result of that crisis, is our democracy more secure? Do we have any reason to believe the next elections won’t end in another violent and deadly insurrection? Sadly, no. In fact, we may be even more at risk of an event similar to and even worse than what we saw on that horrifying day. The warnings are coming from within our own borders and from our neighbors to the north.

“We have now heard from three former military generals that they are worried that if in 2024 the military brass joined in questioning who really won the election, you could have a very different outcome. Remember that Donald Trump never even conceivably had the military brass on his side in 2020. 

What these three former military generals are warning about is if you had the military on the side of the guy who didn’t really win…you could have a military coup on your hands potentially. That’s from the military generals.

Secondly, we are increasingly seeing warnings of different kinds that the U.S. more generally could be heading towards being a dictatorship at some future point in time. There’s, in fact, a Canadian poli-sci professor, Thomas Homer Dixon, who is warning his country. He’s saying: Hey, Canada, we need to be very careful because our neighbors to the south, the United States, depending on what happens in 2024, depending on the degree of authoritarianism that comes to power in 2024, in particular worried about Trump or someone like Trump, the U.S. could be an authoritarian nightmare run by right wingers by the year 2030. 

Those are chilling messages.

At the same time, the people who – one year ago – believed the big lie that the election was stolen and Donald Trump won still believe it. Nothing has changed. And many Republicans would make Trump their presidential nominee again. Worse, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is likely next in line. It’s painful, but it’s reality.

So it’s been a year since the January 6th Trump riots, and there are two or three main issues and questions that are of relevance now that we are approaching the 2022 midterms and starting to sort of think about 2024. 

The first question is, are there currently safeguards in place that would prevent what happened leading up to the riots from happening again? 

Now, I don’t just mean the riots themselves. I’m talking about the entire lead up which included for months before the election, Donald Trump saying it will be a scam, it will be a fraud. The mail-in ballots will be all messed up and it’s gonna be all dead people and double voting and all this stuff. That’s part one. 

After the election, Trump coming out and saying, I actually won the lawsuits, which were all thrown out, and the calls to do something, the attempts to get Mike Pence not to certify the election, all these different things culminating in the riots. 

Has anything really been done to safeguard us from that in the future? And the answer is no. And in fact, I believe we are more at risk for something equally or more violent in the future. And there are a number of different data points to look at this.

Number one we have now heard from three former military generals that they are worried that if in 2024 the military brass joined in questioning who really won the election, you could have a very different outcome. Remember that Donald Trump never even conceivably had the military brass on his side in 2020. 

And at the end of the day, if he had tried more to use force to remain in power without the military brass supporting him, at some point it was going to fail in sort of like a worst case scenario.

What these three former military generals are warning about is if you had the military on the side of the guy who one didn’t really win and we’re gonna help keep the real winner in power, you could have a military coup on your hands potentially. That’s from the military generals.

Secondly, we are increasingly seeing warnings of different kinds that the U.S. more generally could be heading towards being a dictatorship at some future point in time. There’s, in fact, a Canadian PolySci professor, Thomas Homer Dixon, who is warning his country. He’s saying: Hey, Canada, we need to be very careful because our neighbors to the south, the United States, depending on what happens in 2024, depending on the degree of authoritarianism that comes to power in 2024, in particular worried about Trump or someone like Trump, the U.S. could be an authoritarian nightmare run by right wingers by the year 2030. 

And so on the structural question, do we have safeguards in place in the year since the riots? The answer is no, we don’t. Now there’s a second part of it. 

The second part of it is: have people finally accepted what happened on January 6th, 2021 and have their views changed?

And the answer is sadly, no. 

The people who understood the reality on January 6th, 2021 still understand it today. These were riots with the objective of delaying the certification of the 2020 election in order to prevent Joe Biden from becoming the president with the goal of making Trump the president, even though he didn’t win.

The riots were carried out by Trump supporters. They were not Antifa in disguise. They were not any of those different things.

Trump had a role in inciting those riots. And we have, in fact, learned since that many Republicans, even if they weren’t specifically saying, let’s make sure there’s a riot, were involved in the general idea that there was going to be unrest on that day. 

And there was a big desire for Mike Pence to participate in saying, I’m not going to accept these ballots, those ballots, or those ballots.

That’s what we knew last year. And we still know that today.

Unfortunately, a CNN reporter Donie O’Sullivan recently interviewed a bunch of Trump supporters now one year out from the riots, they still believe all the same stuff. 

Interviewee: “It was the Democrats who were behind it all. They’re the ones that caused it all.”

O’Sullivan: “Do you really believe that?”

Interviewee: “I know it.”

They still believe Trump won. They believe the riots were not really Trump supporters. And they were mostly peaceful, which is a conflict. It’s like, wait a second. Were they mostly peaceful? Or were they violent fake Trump supporters? It’s a conflict. They don’t care. But they have learned nothing. 

And as of today, the Republican party would still make Donald Trump their nominee. Once again, the numbers we have right now are, if it’s not Trump, it would be Ron DeSantis.  DeSantis, unfortunately, almost like a more dangerous, more competent version of Trump, all of the terrible political instincts of Trump, but more competence in order to maybe make him a reality, which is a really, really scary thing.

So sadly, I wish I could say this year has been transformative in a great way. Our society has come to understand and accept the truth about what happened on that day and to say it can never happen again. And no, none of it has happened. 

We are more at risk of something even worse happening than we were a year ago today. It pains me to say it, but it’s where we are today. And of course. the November of 2022 results are going to have a large impact on what ultimately happens in 2024.


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