As we mark the anniversary of the January 6, 2021, violent insurrection planned and orchestrated by Donald Trump and his supporters, we must view this week's events in the House through that lens.
The chaos of the Trump presidency culminated in a long-planned violent attempt to end the transfer of presidential power. The efforts to create chaos and weaken our democratic institutions and democracy overall continue, as evidenced this week in the GOP-controlled, but clearly out of control, House.
The infighting in the Republican Party that places power over serving the American people is an extension of Trump's chaotic and, likely, criminal conduct while in office. Anyone who thinks Trump's power in the party has waned, as evidenced by McCarthy's inability, thus far, to win the Speakership vote, is missing the point. It is Trump's hand in the party and influences over it that have instilled chaos into what, for the past 100 years, has been a simple procedural vote with the outcome understood in advance.
Only two years ago, it was Trump's hand in the party that temporarily obstructed another critical but normally perfunctory vote: certifying states' electoral votes from the Presidential election. The chaos planned and carried out on January 6, 2021, has continued in the form of election challenges, a two-year fundraising boondoggle by the disgraced ex-president, continuing efforts to change election laws and procedures in battleground states, and the erosion of faith in our once trusted election systems and in each other.
This is no accident. It is the design of authoritarian movements throughout history, and very often, it works. According to the 2022 V-Dem annual report, more than 70 percent of the world's population now live under authoritarian regimes. Democracy around the world is losing the battle to authoritarianism, and in America, the Republican Party, its supporters, financiers, and media mouthpieces are doing all they can to see that it fails here as well. They have already been successful in weakening it. We can see evidence of that every day but have had quite a week of it watching the chaos and dysfunction play out in the debacle in D.C.
As much as we all long for normalcy, to go back to thinking little about state boards of elections, electoral vote counts, or votes to elect a Speaker of the House, our engagement is essential. Democracy in America is far from a certainty. Our uncertain times continue and are only remedied through ongoing, unrelenting, movement-building pro-democracy efforts and attention to what is not only happening in Washington but what is happening in your school district, county, state legislature, and state supreme court.
The agents of chaos will continue and most likely worsen as the presidential primary jockeying heats up this year. But while the media focuses on the drama of potential primary match-ups, voting in primaries doesn’t begin until 2024. What has already begun, in fact never ended, are the right’s efforts to change the nature and procedures of our elections and who can vote in them. Overlooking a year of anti-democracy, pro-authoritarian efforts by the GOP in 2023 will come back to haunt us in 2024. We need to verb “democracy” and do it every day, or, one day, we might not be able to do it at all.