Legitimate Political Discourse
I am one of those who thinks it is OK to have different views on policy and that it is good to debate them. But it is hard to debate policy if there are adherents to vastly different perceptions of reality.
The recent statement by the Republican National Committee calling the riot/attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 - legitimate political discourse - is reinforcing an alternative reality that makes most people think “What!?” Indeed, stating this view has gone too far for several prominent Republican leaders including Senators McConnel, Romney, Graham. Republican Senator Collins of Maine perhaps put it best with one word - “absurd.
This statement accompanies the censuring of Republican Representatives Cheney and Kinzinger for participating on the committee investigating the January 6 attack. This statement and action are not only ripping apart the purpose of the RNC of uniting/strengthening their party but adds fuel to the fire of multiple false narratives. It truly distracts from and hinders having real debate and understanding on policies and strategies guiding our society.
I am not going to say that there have not always been competing narratives about what is going on in our country or the world for that matter, but it seems that in this case, an extraordinary number of folks are vehemently fired up over a false premise that Donald Trump really won the 2020 election.
Trying to satisfy Donald Trump’s personal gripe that he can now be portrayed as a “loser” is one thing but it is reinforcing way too many over the top false views. Views like COVID does not exist or can/should be ignored, vaccines contain microchips, child sex trafficking is occurring through the National Butterfly Center, trading in children and their body parts is being done by Democrats, China rigged the voting machines, rampant voter fraud is present -in the mostly Democratic cities - these are just a few.
Let’s understand the definition of “legitimate” to recognize the implications of this description of the January 6 attack – “conforming to the law or rules.” Although this phrasing/terminology is now being parsed as applying to the people that did not break into the Capitol, it is problematic. Its use in this case coupled with the censuring is not just a giant faux pas by the RNC, but an alignment with a demonstrably false narrative about the election plus the January 6 attack itself.
Recall that the 2020 election has been scrutinized by the Trump Justice Department, multiple legal cases, and election audits. There has been nothing found that can change the outcome. If folks do not agree, even in face of this range of scrutiny, what do they suggest should be done to satisfy them? Is it always going to be that the “refs are bought off”- because we lost?
Additionally, what is it about the January 6 attack on the Capitol of our nation that does not warrant at least an investigation into all of the circumstances leading up to it as well as the actions that day itself?
The bottom line from my view is that it stands a big chance of making former President Trump look bad – maybe very bad. Family, influential partisan commentators, friends, staff - all went to Trump that day as the one who could stop the mayhem. Does this not imply that they felt he was responsible for it? If you happen to think antifa or the FBI were behind this, why not support an investigation to find out? As we know, there have been none in these groups identified among the hundreds that have been questioned, tried, or jailed.
For this country to truly face real challenges – climate crisis, inflation, wealth disparity, addictive illnesses, gun violence and much more, we need to be clear headed and look at a shared reality and weigh, investigate, and yes -argue -what can be done in light of them.
W Laurence Doxsey, Retired, Former Director of Office of Sustainability for City of San Antonio, former Environmental Officer for US Department of Housing and Urban Development, former Sustainability Officer for City of Austin, resides outside Medina.