Rosemary Ganley The Peterborough Examiner July 28, 2022
Twenty months ago, in November, 2020, America held a presidential election. The dogs were loosed.
A fanatical man, Republican candidate Donald Trump, after four years in office, refused to accept that he had lost a fair and square election to Democratic challenger Joseph R. Biden. He mounted an unheard-of and shocking attempt to overturn the results.
One of the essential pillars on which democracy rests, is the willingness of all parties to cede power according to the votes of the people.
Trump may well be convicted in the future of criminal actions related to his bald-faced bullying and threats to state election officials to “find votes” for him. He spent December fulminating about the result, stepping out of the presidency but launching huge populist rallies, declaring to gullible supporters that the election had been stolen from him. The Big Lie.
The gullible supporters became a problem.
A mob of several thousand, armed and dangerous, attacked the domed Capitol building in Washington on January 6, 2021 as legislators were confirming the count.
The mob overran the halls and offices of the hallowed precinct, in a melee that ultimately led to the deaths of nine people and the wounding of 138 police officers. Tragically, four officers died by suicide following the attack, such was their trauma at the hands of fellow citizens. America was in shock. The capital had not been assaulted since 1812.
I remember watching TV that cold January afternoon, horrified at the scenes of madness unfolding on screen. The hosts struggled to hide their revulsion, communicate the awfulness and draw some historic meaning from it.
Somehow the election results were certified late that evening, and the American republic still stood, but it looked shaky. The myth of American impregnability was shattered for all the world to see.
Congressional leadership then emerged, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer convening a nine-person national commission to investigate and report on the day, the planning, the role of Donald Trump and where responsibility lay.
So deep and bitter are the political divisions in Washington, it was hard to find Republicans, who are largely and irrationally loyal to Trump, to serve on that committee. Finally, two people, a 55- year-old woman from Wyoming with five kids and a law degree, and a 42-year-old veteran from Illinois, agreed to it.
That committee, five men and four women, seven Democrats and two Republicans, all with strong analytic powers and deep patriotism, have worked amid threats for over a year. Now in the final stages, they are doing their work on prime-time TV. They hired 50 staff, did 1,000 interviews, and examined 125,000 records. The committee will write a final report, and the Justice Department will decide on charges.
Three things have been laid bare: the lack of political morality in Republican leaders and lawyers, the admirable character of the two Republican members, Liz Cheney, who is Vice Chair, and Adam Kinzinger, and the powerful truth-telling by three young women, all party staffers.
In another world, I would have little in common with Cheney. She has been anti-gay in the past, fiercely conservative on social issues and hawkish in foreign policy. But in this all- important task, she has been admirable.
“I am conservative,” she said, "and the most conservative of conservative principles is reverence for the rule of law.” And later: “There has never been a greater betrayal by a president of his office and oath to the Constitution. He summoned the mob, he assembled the mob and he lit the flame of attack.”
She has been clear, she has been cool, and she has been consistent.
Kinzinger, mindful of the nastiness unleashed on his family, has declined to run again. Cheney faces an uphill battle this summer to retain her seat.
But she possibly will be seen by history as one of the real saviors of her country as a democracy.
"Gleanings" is Rosemary Ganley's new book. You can purchase directly from the author at firstname.lastname@example.org or from >Amazon<