Jan. 6 was not the end of the coup - ImpeachBeat.com
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Jan. 6 was not the end of the coup

America is an experiment, an ongoing attempt to show that people can govern themselves. But that experiment is under siege. Not from outside our borders, but from within, from people in the country who would rather see this experiment fail than to lose power to those they despise.

As has been well documented, including by us previously, the events that took place at the U.S. Capitol last Jan. 6 were an attempt to overthrow American democracy. It was an attempted coup. To borrow the words of House investigators, this year was “the first time since the Civil War the nation did not experience a peaceful transfer of power.”

Hours after the shocking invasion of the U.S. Capitol by angry supporters of Donald Trump, Congress reconvened to officially certify the election results. A few Republican members, who had intended to reject the official results, changed their minds after that day’s violence and Trump’s incitement of it, and voted to confirm the election.

But sadly, others doubled down on the Big Lie — the oft-repeated litany of court-rejected and thoroughly debunked allegations of supposed voter fraud — and voted to overturn Joe Biden’s win. Our own Kat Cammack was one of them.

Remarkably, some longtime Republican allies and leaders severed ties with Trump that evening. “Count me out,” Senator Lindsay Graham said. “Enough is enough.” A few days later, before the House impeachment vote — the most bipartisan impeachment in U.S. history — Republican House Leader Kevin McCarthy would admit that “the president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.”

A few weeks after that, prior to the Senate impeachment trial, Sen. Mitch McConnell would agree: “There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day.” McConnell went even further, accurately pointing out that Trump “seemed determined to either overturn the voters’ decision or else torch our institutions on the way out.”

Since that dreadful day, over 600 arrests have been made in 40 states, and the cases are working their way through the courts. But as time passes and other news comes to the fore, many Americans seem to think Jan. 6 was a blot on our record, but that it’s now in the past, that the attempted coup is “over.”

But it is not. Despite losing the election, the recounts, 60 court cases and even coming up short in phony “audits” run by his own supporters, Trump and his supporters still pose a dire threat to American democracy. A majority of registered GOP voters have accepted as an article of faith the Big Lie. And the big shots in the party who were critical of Trump have changed their tune accordingly.

Most worrisome are those Republicans who perpetuate the Big Lie and hold office in Republican dominated state legislatures across the nation. According to the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University, “as of June 21, 17 states enacted 28 new laws that restrict access to the vote.” This includes Florida and Georgia, two states that have targeted mail in voting, a method of voting that has never been seen as partisan until Trump made it so in 2020.

And Trump supporters are still demanding more bogus “audits,” even in states that Trump won in 2020, like here in Florida, where pardoned perjurer Roger Stone recently threatened to primary Ron DeSantis if DeSantis does not audit last year’s results.

Meanwhile, election officials across the country are quitting and leaving their jobs because of ongoing harassment and threats to their safety made by Trump supporters. They are being replaced by Trump acolytes, who are determined, it seems, to make sure that they get the winner they want. Some of the new voting laws are designed to give some state legislatures the power to do just that. 


Raw footage from capitol riots on January 6: U.S. v. Jensen

A federal judge released video clips that were obtained as part of the prosecution of suspects in the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection.

Staff video, USA TODAY

And that is the real purpose of these restrictive new voting laws and audits: to undermine American democracy by forevermore throwing elections into doubt, and using ever-changing rules to predetermine election results. 

Democracy is not lost all at once. It dies bit by bit. Last Jan. 6 was not by any measure the end of the coup. If real Americans don’t stand up and fight back, these America- and democracy-hating insurgents will win.

We must stand up to them, each and every time. Support local election officials. Stand up for free and fair elections. Because if you don’t take control, they will, and it will be the end of the American experiment. 

Bill Radunovich and Sandy Parker live in Gainesville.

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