Guest Contributor Gene Jones
Published in Critical Times, July 2022
As we learn more about the insurrection on January 6, 2021, the case is clear that it was a concerted effort to overturn our constitutional republic by Trump supporters.
Trump initiated the turmoil by claiming that the election was stolen, and the Republican Party swallowed his lie. Trump’s misinformation campaign weakened our democracy and laid the groundwork for the attack on the Capitol.
Repeatedly disseminating misinformation to weaken a government is a well-established propaganda technique. The damage is done because many citizens become uncertain about the truth and conclude “We don’t know who, or what, to believe.” As a result, they are demoralized and more easily manipulated by ideologues.
More dangerous are those who believe the misinformation and become “true believers”. Over time, as lies are spewed repeatedly by their leaders, followers internalize the false belief and democracy is delegitimized. In a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll, 53 percent of Republicans still believe Trump is the true president.
Spurred on by their extremist Republican leaders, the true believers took their belief to its logical conclusion and tried to overthrow our elected government. Many of the staunchest Trump supporters like the leadership of the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers have now been charged with seditious conspiracy, which is the intention to “overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States.” Some have pled guilty.
The attack on the capitol was so lethal that several people died, and many were wounded. The vote to certify the election was delayed and the insurrectionist came close to stopping it.
Fortunately, patriots responded to the attack with quick thinking and courage. Someone grabbed and secured the box containing the electoral vote certifications from states. Vice President Pence refused to be whisked away from the Capitol. Representatives and Senators stayed late into the night to complete their Constitutional duty amidst a Capitol in shambles.
We came close to a governmental collapse on January 6th, and the danger has not subsided.
The Ipsos/Reuters polls confirms the true believing Republicans have not been dissuaded from their false belief. Most Republican leaders still hold President Biden as illegitimate.
The true believers can fairly be described as extremists because they are not committed to democratic norms or principles. A hallmark of American democracy is abiding by election results. Even today, the extremists won’t accept the presidential election results. In Florida, most Republican leaders are complicit with the extremists. Representative Steube, for example, advertises proudly that he still stands shoulder to shoulder with Trump.
The extremists don’t support democracy. They want a strongman leader. While planning the insurrection the Proud Boys hailed emperor Trump.
As patriots and loyal citizens, we must protect our democracy. We must reject the extremists. If they continue to be put in positions of power, we will see more chaos like January 6. The extremists don’t have policy ideas to make America better. Their motivation is to grab and hold power so their anti-democratic ideology can be imposed on us all.
Gene Jones is President of the Florida Veterans for Common Sense.
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