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Six January Plus a Year

A year later, what can be said, except that not enough has been done.

Our government exists to protect our lands and our lives, and to see that we have a say in how that happens, in how our collective efforts bring us to a better future of prosperity. We make our voices heard, and that result is felt in the next stent of government at which point we adjust. And we repeat this every few years, in order that our nation may find its way forward in a complex world.

A year ago some Donald John Trump supporters decided America was theirs for the taking, that they didn’t give a rat’s ass what we thought. Led by Donald John Trump, they embarked on a campaign of lies and noise that culminated on 6 January, 2021, when they sought to steal our government and our law, to pervert it for their own preferences.

But behind them was a larger movement all focused on the same outcome through different methods. Their lying began well before the 2020 election, and they kept lying in all kinds of venues including courts and on all modern forms of media. And some are lying even today! They had no evidence, no real claim, but the design didn’t require either of those things. They at the top of the orgy of authoritarianism seek power through whatever means available, with the caveat that they don’t want to face consequences when they fail (which precludes only a few methods).

The party that shelters this element has repeatedly refused to take a stand or kick them out. Wyoming’s Republican party kicked out Representative Liz Cheney for her efforts to uphold American values. Several state party election officials have held meetings with liars where they say the state’s election was straight, even as the liar says otherwise. Other states have held bogus audits that still failed to deliver evidence as they invalidated the voting machines.

Those seeking Republican nominations, including for offices that administer elections, have voiced their zeal for the lies, portraying themselves as pliant servants of the devilry it represents. They say they will not certify valid elections that oppose the liars. They pass laws, and call for more to be done, to thwart legitimate electors from voting, and from allowing the result to stand, in order to suppress their political opponents.

The impeachment that followed the Capitol attack fell flat, with no new evidence, no testimony, and with a rush to move on, particularly by the Republican caucus of the Senate that had already stalled it while they retained the majority. The federal government is prosecuting the attackers, but as yet no charges for those who egged them on, who brought the mob. And the responsible parties continue to delay, if not defeat, any real accountability.

One year on, we haven’t seen real consequences for the liars, and we don’t see much reason to hope that they will come. For the briefest of moments, a year ago, after the attack, some prominent Republicans spoke as if they would finally return to reality even as others voted to remain in Delusionville. Only a few stayed in reality, most have returned to the land of filth and crud that is inaccessible to those of us with clear minds.

If Democrats and sane Republicans, along with businesses that want a real government more than tin-pot tax cuts (where’s the polling on that?), cannot act to put down this rebellion of the deluded, something besides the Republican party is certainly broken, and likely irrevocably so.

We do still have hope. Our hope is our ability to sift truth out of lies. That we will support those who seek to strengthen democracy, seek to build a better world for all, and we will reject them that won’t. In this division, we are fallible but determined. And over time we will get it right enough that good will prevail. The clock is ticking.

Twenty Years On

Remembering the past 20 years.

Walking to my morning class, I overheard a student tell another something about a plane crash in New York. That’s all I remember from the day. I’m sure I got home and watched it all unfold on television, but I don’t really remember any of that. Only that first bit stuck with me.

There were daily reports about the search and rescue at Ground Zero. There were first details about the where why how the hell this happened. President Bush vowing revenge, international well-wishing.

I remember glimpses of the next several years, the wars erupting. The shifting security theater of airports. I remember going downtown to a protest against the war in Iraq, scribbling a sign in a notebook that read, “Chew before you swallow. Think before you follow.”

It all felt very strange. Every moment of it, of these 20 years.

America, 20 years after the 2001 attacks, still feels just as lost. Hell, we were lost before that. Probably we always were. Not just America, but humanity. If something good happens, we assume we deserve it and that things are stable. If something bad happens, we assume we deserve it and that things are crashing.

Sure, we might protest sometimes. Righteous indignation. But only so much. Things go back to the middle, the blur. Mostly we focus on the economy, on jobs, on consuming. That was the big call in late 2001: go shopping. Keep the economy running. Healing? Reflection? Not until they can be monetized, if ever.

Politically, those years taught a pretty good lesson: Republicans as a party can’t care. They aren’t able to care. Bush ran on compassionate conservativism. But he didn’t deliver. He tried at some level on some policies, but his party couldn’t get there. They still can’t. Those in the party that try are fooling themselves that it can happen. It’s sadly a lesson we’re still being taught, as roughly one in ten COVID-19 deaths have happened since 1 May, a period when free vaccines have been broadly available.

Democrats, for all their faults, have a mixed record. They often care, but for a variety of reasons can’t get 100%, can’t drag the Republicans along when it’s needed most. The party of Lincoln has calcified into a millstone.

I realize that doesn’t seem to have a lot to do with the topic—the 2001 attacks. I’m not sure much does or doesn’t. I know the media has been building up for the 20th anniversary, and I still don’t really get anything but a strange vibe. The attacks were a very shitty day, but the repercussions, the reaction more than the day itself, still throb in the soul of the country in a very real way. I don’t think it’s loss of innocence. It feels more like a permanent excuse.

All the tragedies big and small, the politicians come out and do their expected rituals. And I don’t mean to belittle them—rituals bring some amount of comfort. But all the flag pins, the gestures in the aftermath, they became more important than actually righting the ship. It started to feel like all the pols and corps were like the mafia don sending a sliced meat platter, but still sending a goon to collect the protection money. That the schmucks never cared enough to stand up to pharma companies or banks or telecoms or any major business.

It feels more like if a married person has an affair, cheats. And the spouse finds out, but they stay together. But every argument, every difference, there’s that weight of the excuse, the old scar to be shown: “I took a bullet for you once, now you have to follow me around until you save my life.” That’s what 11 September feels like on some level. Like America has held it over its own head and said, “We can’t commit to a new paradigm, a renewal, a sanity.”

I still hope one day we can commit to those things. They’d be a hell of a lot more of a fitting legacy to those who died that day, that week, in the months and years since.