Cause and effect. That’s really the puzzle we’re tasked with solving. If the effect in question is the January 6, 2020 insurrection then what is its cause? Its real cause – not the icing level “causes” our news media plunks down: “because angry”, “because love of Trump”, “because kitchen table economics” (our news media loves to frame everything from a pocketbook point of view because it’s easy to back up with data and polling; the problem: poorly framed polling questions create skewed results from the get-go that create false narratives that our most of our news media fails to analyze properly. For example – regardless of whatever a poll taker asks a subject about Donald Trump, if the question frames Trump as a “normal” POTUS (whose election was truly free and fair) then they’re beginning from a FICTITIOUS place. Any polling question that hasn’t accounted for Trump’s treasonous relationship with Vladimir Putin either somewhere in the question itself or in the question’s architecture isn’t asking about the Trump that lives in THIS world. On January 6, 2020, Trump pulled the trigger on an insurrection. That is, he pulled the trigger on the violent part of it.
The armed part of the insurrection failed to accomplish its goal – to prevent power from being transferred from Trump to Joe Biden. But the insurrection itself never stopped. It’s continued to roll to this very day. But then, as we’re learning, the insurrection didn’t begin on January 6. It was plotted and paid for weeks earlier. There was lots of electronic communication. But even then, we still haven’t gotten to the root “why” or a moment that we can point to where the “why” became the justification for actions taken.
By definition, insurrection is “an act or instance of revolting against civil authority or an established government.” According to US law, “it is illegal to incite, assist with, or participate in a rebellion or insurrection against U.S. laws and authority.” Trump repeatedly has done textbook definition insurrection – revolting against our established government. When you attack an American election intending to deliberately alter its outcome, you are revolting against the whole basis for our government – the self-governing part. You don’t have to blow up a voting machine to commit insurrection. If you blow up the results emerging from it, you are destroying the trust any democracy relies on for its very survival. Never mind attacking a physical Capitol building, you’ve attacked the building’s theoretical foundations. Destroy them and you might as well dynamite the structure into rubble.
For six years now, our news media has scratched a divot into its head while trying to figure out what Putin’s hold is on Trump. As if the answer to that question was a question. As if they themselves hadn’t already reported it! But, if you don’t know the answer to this question, you don’t understand the imperative driving every Trumpian attempt to hold onto power. And, if you don’t understand why the Republican Party – despite knowing for a fact who and what Trump was – hitched their wagon to Trump, then there is simply no way you will ever grasp why we stand today at the precipice.
We can establish that on June 25, 2016, the Republican Party’s leadership all knew or suspected that Trump’s relationship with Putin demanded further investigation. That’s the day current GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy walked from a meeting about Ukraine into a meeting of GOP leaders and announced “There’s two people I think Putin pays – Rohrbacher and Trump – swear to God!” With six years of hindsight, that statement has only become more curious.
And more telling.
Let’s be crystal clear about the playing field the Republican Party understood it was playing on – and the game each Republican understood he or she was playing. The GOP did not approach election 2016 the way the Democrats did. At that point, the GOP was already deep into a planned takeover of the judiciary; Mitch McConnell was actively denying Merrick Garland so much as a hearing as the election approached. Back then, it was “too close” to an election to talk about SCOTUS seats. When Trump had already lost, it wasn’t too late to cram Amy Coney Barrett down America’s unwilling throat.
That is the playing field Republicans play on. This isn’t merely a circumvention of the norms. Why does one “circumvent norms” to begin with? There are good reasons and bad reasons to circumvent norms. If one is proud of why one wants to circumvent norms, one should say why – as rebels do. But why keep it on the downlow?
Because guilty of something else entirely. As the Reagan years came to an end, the Right Wing Money (the deeply libertarian Koch Brothers especially) saw the diversity handwriting on the wall. Two hundred plus years of white hegemony were going to end if someone didn’t do something. The Kochs are the kind of white men who believe that their money is proof that they know better than the rest of us. What they “know better” is how to soak us for everything we’ve got – and keep us in a kind of perpetual slave state where the rich get richer and we get more enslaved.
White hegemony has been good for the rich, white, land-owning class. It’s no wonder they want to maintain their status. Alas, that’s not how a democracy’s supposed to work. For the record? It’s now how capitalism’s supposed to work either.
The RW Money machine put its resources toward controlling as much of the government as its money could. The executive branch had become impossible without sleight of hand (see “Bush v Gore”). The House of Representatives is always running for office so fuhgeddaboudit! The Senate, at least (from a conservative, Republican POV) was comfortably Republican. Even if Democrats could score a numerical majority (51 v 50), the arcane, racist filibuster could put the Will of The People at bay by raising the bar of votes needed to 60.
The Senate’s very structure – like the Electoral College’s – was a compromise with slavery that gave undue power and influence to land owners and too little power to urbanites. That’s too much power to wealthy, white, Christian land owners and too little to everyone else. Why are there two Dakotas, ddo ya suppose? Were there too many Dakotans for one? Why are Wyoming and Idaho separate states?. Wyoming had 578,803 in it as of July 2021. The District of Columbia had 670,050 people in it in 2021. Wyomingites get two Senators. Residents of DC get none.
Guess which of those two places is almost entirely white.
The RW Money has always counted on controlling the Senate either via direct majority or via the filibuster. Prior to Trump, they had begun to think the executive branch would be forever out of reach. The GOP fully expected Hilary Clinton to beat Trump. That left the judiciary – which the Kochs in particular tasked Mitch McConnell with capturing.
As we all know, Mitch was a very loyal treason turtle.
The GOP knew Trump was 1) compromised by Putin and 2) therefore a grave national security threat before they even nominated Trump in 2016. Rather than investigate, the Republican leadership followed then Speaker Of The House Paul Ryan’s orders that they end the discussion of that topic right there, right then.
The correct response was to call the FBI.
Instead, per Speaker Ryan, the Republican Party agreed to keep this terrible secret a secret! “That’s how we know we’re ‘family’.” is how Ryan put it. By “family”, he meant “co-conspirator”. That’s how we know we’re “co-conspirators in “an organized and usually violent act of revolt or rebellion against an established government or governing authority of a nation-state.” The violence doesn’t have to happen right at the start. It takes planning – and motivation.
Every insurrection begins somewhere other than where it exploded. Ours exploded at the US Capitol on January 6, 2020. But it began years earlier – even before 2016. But, we can point to 2016 (with evidence) of when the insurrection moved operationally from the GOP’s head to its hand.
Thinking insurrection may be one thing (it’s debatable). “Doing” insurrection is something else entirely.