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Powerful Words About the Existential Threat to Our Democracy Require Equally Powerful Action

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Washington, DC – On the one-year anniversary of the January 6th deadly riot and attempted coup, powerful voices are speaking out, describing the threat and calling for action.

Jean Guerrero’s column in the Los Angeles Times, “How the insurrection’s ideology came straight out of 1990s California politics.”

“One year ago, a mob of mostly white men stormed the Capitol to try to keep their race-baiting idol in power. The attack was not the ‘last gasp’ of white supremacy or Trumpism, as many might have wanted to believe. It was a national coming out party for the political right’s insurrectionist movement, whose roots were set decades ago and completely visible in California’s electoral politics and public battles in the 1990s.

…That’s not a new play for Republican leaders. They opened the Pandora’s box of ‘replacement’ paranoia in California in the 1990s with scaremongering about a decline in the state’s white population and an imagined Mexican ‘reconquista.’ Trump’s senior advisor Stephen Miller, for one, grew up in California during that time … Trump’s Big Lie — and its capacity to elicit violence — is inseparable from those biases.”

Heather McGhee writes, “The Lesson of January 6: Zero-Sum Racism is the Biggest Threat to U.S. Democracy.”

“The lie of the stolen election is not just a wild fantasy — it is anchored in our long history of zero-sum racial hierarchy. That’s where you’ll find the Big Lie’s racial common sense: of course, the winner of the white vote is the legitimate president, and votes cast by people of color are by definition taking something from rightful white voters.

… Despite the us-versus-them insanity of the current moment, it’s important to remember that the future the zero-sum mob fears is a chimera. When Americans of color gain political power, as we did after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, we don’t demand retribution. We simply demand that America — our America, too — live up to her own stated ideals of equality and the pursuit of happiness.

…When you look up the supply chain of racist delusions, you inevitably find a self-interested elite peddling the lies. They’re the ideological (and sometimes literal) descendants of the plantation class, still using racism to prop up their greed. It’s these elites who win when the masses of people who have the most to benefit from democracy and a functioning government are willing to destroy it rather than share it across the color line. When you track who funded the “Stop the Steal” movement and ongoing plans to overturn elections, they’re the same people who benefit from tax handouts and corporate giveaways when Republicans gain power despite losing the majority of votes.”

In an interview with Slate reporter Aymann Ismail, University of Chicago researcher Robert Pape highlights the role of the Great Replacement Theory in the January 6 insurrection.

“The No. 1 feature of the county sending insurrectionists, aside from simply the size of the population overall, is that these are the counties losing the most white population in the United States. The more counties have lost non-Hispanic white population since 2010—that is, between 2010 and 2020—the significantly more likely is the county to send an insurrectionist.

There is a right-wing conspiracy theory called the great replacement, which says that white people are being overtaken by minorities and that this is going to cause a loss of rights for white people. It used to be on the fringe. It’s been around a long time, but what’s special now is that that theory is embraced in full-throated fashion by major political leaders and also by major media figures. If you live in an area that’s losing white population, you can start yourself to connect the dots to the spinning that’s going around with these narratives.”

Frank Sharry in Medium: “Fighting for American Democracy Includes Fighting for a Pro-Immigrant America.”

“…With Republicans radicalizing, it’s up to Democrats to make a stand. They cannot cower, debate and concede. They must summon the political will and courage to fight for an expansive and inclusive vision of American democracy. 

This means taking on the structural impediments to progress and delivering on legislation to protect the the voting rights of all and the principle of majority rule. This means fighting against the countermajoritarian project of the Republican Party and for a multiracial majority that supports an open society. This means fighting for immigration reforms that welcome rather than exclude. This means organizing a broad front for democracy that repels the tide of extremism in order to preserve and advance the American experiment.

The choice could not be clearer. We either fight for and strengthen an America comprised of people from every corner of the globe who join in a noble quest to make freedom, equality and justice real in the lives of one and all, regardless of birthplace and background, or we watch as a white identity movement diminishes our democracy, demonizes “the other” and uses the levers of government to drive power and wealth into the hands of the few. Unless we redouble our efforts, January 6th will become not a warning sign but a national holiday. Failure is not an option.”

President Biden made a powerful speech. People on the ground want equally powerful action.

President Biden delivered a powerful speech yesterday about the “battle for the soul of America” and the threat to our democracy. The White House also announced plans for President Biden and Vice President Harris to deliver speeches in Georgia next week about the essential need to pass voting rights and democracy legislation. 

Tia Mitchell of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, “a coalition of Georgia voting rights groups says President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris should skip traveling to Atlanta next week unless they come with a concrete plan to pass federal voting laws.”