Friday, October 29, 2021

Follow-up to 'It Was All a Lie'

Journalism and social media professor Meredith D. Clark was recently asked about her reactions to the January 6 attack on the Capitol. She replied: If people are allowed to assault the Capitol, and if they are not adequately investigated and punished after the fact, it reveals that something isn't true "in the way that we talk about American democracy." Schoolchildren are taught that there is something "almost holy" about democratic institutions in the United States. Yet, on January 6, these institutions were revealed as cheaply valued.

Especially perplexing, Clark said, are the demographics of the people who participated in the attack. "These are people who, by virtue of racial hierarchy in this country, should have every opportunity that can be afforded to someone along racial lines. These are the people for whom American democracy was essentially created," she said — yet, rather than benefiting from the system, "they are willing to turn it on its head to bend the government and the way that we think about democracy to their will..." The observation here (if I interpret it correctly) is that if marginalized groups had stormed the Capitol, it might have been a way of manifesting their grievances against a governing system that has historically excluded their democratic participation, but when white Americans storm the Capitol (or choose not to thoroughly investigate or prosecute those who did), they more pointedly reveal that even they who have been personally well served by the system never really believed it to be sacred.

Former Republican strategist Stuart Stevens said something similar in his book It Was All a Lie. He said that he believed, all through his career, that Republican leaders genuinely stood for values like lowering taxes and avoiding unplanned pregnancies. However, when they nominated Trump in 2016, they revealed that this party platform had always been a lie to drum up votes. They never cared about preserving Constitutional rights, or they wouldn't have nominated a man who was ignorant of American political theory. Clearly, they care about gaining raw power for themselves. Stevens now believes, as I described in an article on Medium last year: "They never genuinely held those values, or else they never could have yielded them up so swiftly."

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