January 6, 2021, was the twenty-first century’s Day of Infamy for the U.S. Our country’s first Day of Infamy, December 7, 1941, resulted in outrage as Americans united after the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and mounted a mass mobilization for World War II.
A year after our twenty-first century Day of Infamy, as a country we’re more divided than ever, a flailing democracy with a polarized electorate and our fundamental institutions -- free and fair elections, impartial judiciary, independent legislature, free press, civilian control of the military -- all under attack from within.
‘Stop the Steal’ is alive and well. A May 2021 Ipsos/Reuters Poll reported that 56 percent of Republicans believe the election was rigged or the result of illegal voting, and 53 percent think Donald Trump is the legitimate president of the United States. One in three Republicans thinks that violence is justified to change regimes.
The entire country has to be mobilized to deal with this growing cancer or this democracy is doomed. The whole nation watched the assault on the Capitol instigated by President Trump and his senior advisers as the insurrection was documented by television cameras, social media, bystanders and citizen participants using their cell phones.
In the aftermath, based on incontrovertible evidence, former President Trump was impeached for a second time and a House Select Committee was formed to investigate the insurrection. Ten months later, new evidence has revealed a comprehensive plan to overturn the election results and install Trump as president for a second term.
If we saw this happening in any other country we would call it an attempted coup and urge swift action to punish the perpetrators. Here in the U.S. the investigation is moving deliberately, but slowly.
At the one year anniversary, the lack of urgency in our efforts to correct this unprecedented attack is unsettling. Senior military officers, legal scholars, academics and elder statesmen have all warned that without excavating the cause and holding perpetrators accountable we risk having another attempted coup. Why aren’t we focusing on addressing January 6th with laser-like precision?
“Think Again” author Adam Grant wrote in the New York Times that our lethargic response to Omicron might be attributed to systemic desensitization: We have been exposed so long to shocks to the system from earlier waves of COVID that we’re inured to Omicron’s potential damage and to taking necessary steps to minimize our exposure to it. Nothing related to COVID can surprise us. The same may hold true for our response to the Trump drumbeat of lies and his relentless ‘Stop the Steal’ campaign.
We cannot let exhaustion or cynicism lull us into a slow motion response or total inaction. Democracy perishes without accountability. If we do not have an accurate historical account of the insurrection, prosecute the key perpetrators and erect safeguards that reinforce free and fair elections and accurate vote counts we will face a situation of massive voter skepticism and partisan election officials determining election outcomes in some states.
A Nonpartisan Plan of Action
Our leaders are divided and slow to act. So we citizens need to seize the initiative and form a nationwide citizens’ effort to rebuild our democracy.
Civil society -- including conservatives, moderates, progressives, civic associations, democracy groups, labor unions, professional associations, churches, civil rights groups and entertainers, as well as activists working on ranked choice voting, gerrymandering and filibuster reform -- needs to unite in a nonpartisan two-phase plan that embraces all Americans, especially the rural poor, and appeals to their patriotism. The first phase must be implemented with urgency before mid-term elections this year and the second phase made operational for the 2024 election.
In Phase I we need to build a vocal citizens constituency, then use it to publicize the work of the House Select Committee and report every significant revelation through local news outlets and on social media. Let the country know -- state by state and county by county -- what the committee is doing. Work with mainstream media to profile police and others harmed on January 6th, building human connection and sympathy for those personally impacted. Have daily briefings as we had for the first phase of COVID-19. Plan civic protests for the sixth day of every month.
In a bi-partisan campaign, as intensive as the 2020 get-out-the-vote drives and letter-writing campaigns, we must unite to push the House Select Committee to hold public hearings immediately. This spring is too late.
Along with the House Select Committee acceleration campaign, the new citizens group must urge Attorney General Merrick Garland to be more forthcoming on the Justice Department’s investigation. In his January 5th speech A.G. Garland shared the process and procedures the Justice Department will follow. But while the public understands his reticence and need to protect the case he is building, he needs to find a way to respect Justice’s tradition of relative silence on ongoing investigations but still frequently explain his decisions to the American people in real time. It would build support for the investigation if he could share his thinking:
Is he drawing up charges for known perpetrators who clearly violated the Constitution?
Is he planning to charge former President Trump with sedition?
What are the next steps in the investigation for former President Trump’s close friend Steve Bannon and former Trump chief-of-staff Mike Mulvaney?
And what is the timeframe the A.G. is working with given the mid-terms and the possibility of a Republic-led House in the next Congress?
In Phase II, we will aim to bring Trump loyalists toward the political center. Our long-term goal is to have 20 million Americans now supporting the insurrection-whitewash to reexamine their views regarding January 6th. To effect permanent change in Trump supporters, we must work with local community groups and grassroots democracy networks to find common ground and reach a shared vision of our country. This broad coalition will have to demonstrate that its members respect their views and their culture, and jointly work to craft a vision of a common future that affords each American dignity.
January 6, 2021 is an unrequited Day of Infamy for our country. That stigma can change with robust, sustained citizens’ demand for their government to act with urgency and decisiveness. We the people can make it happen!
CALL TO ACTION - SAFEGUARDING OUR DEMOCRACY: SIX ON THE SIXTH
We are patriotic Americans. We love the U.S.A, so January 6, 2021 was a sad day for our country. To move forward as one nation we need a fact-based investigation like the one the bipartisan January 6 House Select Committee is holding. If we know what went wrong we can take steps to fix the problems. But the first step is getting a full picture of the events of the day.
The House Select Committee needs to know that it has the support of the American people. We ask that on the sixth day of every month at 6:00pm, you commit to celebrating and safeguarding our democracy by:
Sending a tweet or message to Members of Congress saying:
"I love the U.S.A.
To safeguard our future
Examine the past
Please support the January 6 Select Committee"
- or -
"We love the U.S.A.
Thank you, January 6 Committee
We’ve got your backs"
Joining neighbors on your street corner with signs in support of the January 6 Committee. Sign suggestions:
"Thank you, January 6 Committee.
We’ve got your backs"
- or -
"To safeguard our future, examine the past
Support the January 6 Committee"
Going to your window or outside and bang a pot or pan and chant:
"U.S.A. U.S.A. Jan 6. Jan 6. U.S.A. U.S.A.
To safeguard our future, examine the past.
U.S.A. U.S.A. Jan 6. Jan 6. U.S.A. U.S.A."
Posting your photos with your sign or pot/pan on social media.
The goal is to get large numbers of Americans to spend just five to ten minutes once a month to signal support of one of the most crucial investigations in our nation's history.