As the January 6 Committee continues its hearings, many of us (including an increasing number of former Trump supporters) have been shocked by the extent to which Trump and those around him plotted to overturn the election of Joe Biden.
Yes, we’ve long-known about the basic outline of the plot and many of the specifics of Trump’s machinations — such as the infamous call to the Georgia Secretary of State to “find” him 11,780 votes (a conversation that would make an organized crime boss proud) — but the January 6 Committee has tied it all together and added some new facts through the testimony of witnesses’ who have revealed many new details.
However, undeniably there is a large segment of Americans who think Trump did nothing wrong and continue to applaud what he did prior to, on, and after January 6.
For anyone who knows their U.S. history, the large number of Americans who are sticking with Trump is not surprising. There always has been a faction in America from the time of our Founding that has been authoritarian, white-male supremacist, and anti-democratic.
In the segregated South of the Jim Crow era, the anti-democratic extremists were Democrats from the end of the Civil War until the 1960s. Joe Biden liked to brag about how he could work with Strom Thurmond and other conservatives in the Senate, but those guys were just as extremist and as anti-democratic as anyone today, maybe even more so.
The difference between today and those eras is that many of the sub-groups of American culture that formerly were invisible now are out there, front and center. Joe Biden could “work” with rabid segregationists like Strom Thurmond because it largely was accepted by the majority of Americans, even “liberal” Democrats, that this is the way things were. But that sort of thinking no longer aligns with the attitude of the majority of Americans.
However, there still is a sizable portion of our fellow citizens who are not willing to acknowledge that times have changed. They’re the ones who wear T-shirts that proclaim, “I’d rather be Russian than a Democrat.”
The January 6 Committee is to be applauded for its work in laying out the full extent of Trump’s plotting to overturn the election, but it has exposed the deep rifts in our society that literally are threatening to bring us to the brink of another Civil War.
Ominously, although what we are learning from the January 6 Committee hearings of the recent past may be informative, it does not bode well for the future of our democracy.