Showing Up When It Matters

The January 6 Committee hearings were televised tonight and will continue during the next week. We’re in Watergate territory again. When I was little, the school library left the Watergate hearings on tv all day, so if we wanted to watch it during lunch or on a class visit to the library, we could. It was history. The adults around us knew, and talked about, how important it was, that nobody, even the President of the United States, was above the law.

Nixon wasn’t accused of anything half so bad as what took place on and around January 6, 2021.

One of the stated reasons for televising part of the Watergate hearings was transparency, the idea that our government shouldn’t address something so important in secrecy. The other reason, discussed but not front and center, was that elected officials were looking for public support to deal with what Nixon had done. Had people not watched the hearings, listened, and been appalled enough to contact their legislators, Nixon and his co-conspirators would have gone unpunished, and their actions would have become normalized, part of the day to day operation of political campaigns.

Few people are willing to lose their jobs over issues no one cares about. Politicians, despite some evidence to the contrary, are people. If few of us care about the events of January 6, if we’re willing to forget and move on, why should members of Congress risk their jobs? If it’s not a priority for us, why should it be a priority for them?A thing that doesn’t get mentioned enough is that our “rights,” those freedoms we argue about but count on, require our government to be functioning and strong to enforce them.

If anyone who doesn’t like the results of an election can then try to overthrow the elected government, we enable the dictators who want to force their views on everyone regardless of the will of the people. We normalize force as the way our government operates and make violence just another tool in a politician’s tool kit. All the other things we argue about, gun laws, reproductive rights, voting rights, all of it, are meaningless unless we have a functioning government to enact the things we demand and enforce them.

Listening to the Capitol Police officer who testified was heartbreaking. The harrowing account of what she and fellow officers went through would chill the blood of any reasonable person. The documentary footage was sickening, jumped-up, white supremacist, military cosplayers bragging and plotting. Trump was right, there were conspiracies — but his followers weren’t responding to conspiracies, they were bringing them. The footage of them desecrating our capitol will never cease to disgust me. That we might shrug and so tell the world that we condone what they did is frightening. The very thing we use to sell democracy, the idea of the peaceful transfer of power, is at risk. They spit on it, on the Constitution, on everything that makes us American.

So this matters. It matters a lot. It matters so much that if we don’t show up and show we understand that, nothing else we talk about matters. We will have voted for fascism and dictatorship, and said that we want whatever lives the people who can force themselves into power are willing to give us.So yes, I’ll be watching. I expect it to be mostly a bit dull and sometimes a little confusing, but I’ll show up, and I’ll talk to my friends and neighbors, and contact my elected representatives to tell them what I think and what I want, because it’s important. I’m showing up for my community. I’m showing up for myself. I’m showing up because if I don’t, the people in power will rightly assume I don’t care, not about my rights, not about any of it. I hope you’re showing up, too.#January6th#Election2022#politics

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