Colson: Will our national fate hinge on this day?
Well, it appears right now (on Monday morning, as my deadline approaches) that today, Dec. 19, 2022, is the day for the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the nation’s capital to finally call for charges to be filed against former President Donald Trump for perhaps three of his treasonous, anti-democratic moves that in effect put him directly on a path to undermine our form of government.
Commentators, including historian Heather Cox Richardson (who cranks out a daily, internet-enabled series of essays entitled “Letters From An American”), The New York Times and other outlets, have stated that this will be the final hearing of the committee, which has been savaged by Trump and his Republican sycophants and may well be unplugged and dismissed when Republicans take control of the House in January.
For now, though, the committee recommended prosecution of the former president (though there are others in the committee’s cross-hairs) with at least three charges: obstruction of an official proceeding on Congress (the certification of Trump’s 2020 loss of the presidential election); conspiracy to defraud the United States (moves by him and others to scuttle the election results through various and nefarious means); and insurrection (his words and actions in support of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6).
Remember, if you will, that the mob of insurrectionists wanted to do two things: stop the certification of the election result, and take the first steps toward the armed overthrow of the government, according to the words of some movement leaders leading up to Jan. 6.
And as the committee got to work some 18 months ago, a number of Republicans have refused to honor subpoenas to appear before the committee and testify under oath, another nest of actions that might result in recommendations for indictments.
This is big stuff, and everybody should be paying the day’s actions all the attention it warrants.
Never before, as far as I know, has a sitting president gone so far to undermine the authority of the very government he is leading in service of his ego and his lust to retain power in the face of electoral rejection.
Until Trump came on the scene, the nation at large, in practical if not literal terms, has believed and acted in support of the idea that no one is above the rule of law in this country.
Trump and his Republican supporters hate that idea and have been actively working against it.
Through their efforts to gerrymander political districts across the land and other means, they have been moving toward establishing themselves as the only legitimate holder of power in government.
Some leaders of the right-wing political machine (it’s not just a fringe thing anymore; it’s infected the very marrow in the bones of the GOP) have openly and unabashedly praised and courted Hungarian autocrat Victor Orban, bringing him to Texas to open the Conservative Political Action Conference earlier this year and traveling to Hungary to prostrate themselves before Orban’s alter.
Why this adulation for dictators of this sort?
Well, in Orban’s case, after he was elected in what were called “free and fair elections” in 2010, he immediately rewrote his nation’s election laws to essentially make him prime minister for life, which is just what Trump and his ilk want to do here.
Wait, some out there are thinking, this is simply hysterical libtard horse-puckey, this kind of thing cannot happen here in the US of A, but you’re wrong.
Authoritarian potential has always been a part of the political makeup of this country, and has actually taken shape before in the form of efforts by Southern politicians in the mid-1800s to make slavery the law of the land across the country, not just in certain states.
These days, slavery is not the issue, but racism and white fear of immigrants of color have taken on the same urgency and power in many quarters.
Oddly, these surprising trends are being abetted by certain segments of the upper crust of U.S. society who seem to prefer autocracy and authoritarianism to the kind of racial diversity and political plurality that appear to be natural outgrowths of democracy if it is left unchecked and in place.
Make no mistake about it, we are at a crisis point in this country, and we may look back on this day as a crucial opportunity to do something about it, whether we take that chance or not.