The media narrative today is that "right wing crazies" are the only people involved in this attempt to disrupt Congress and even kidnap or murder some of our elected representatives. But they're missing, almost entirely, the big question: Why did so many people show up?
Imagine it's November, 2024 and election-tally reports from Secretaries of State around the country indicate that Senator Tom Cotton has beaten Vice President Kamala Harris for President of the United States.
While CNN and Fox News are congratulating Tom Cotton for becoming the new president-elect, MSNBC reports that there were, in fact, massive election irregularities in six swing states, which strongly suggest Kamala Harris actually won the election. They include intricate details of exactly how the irregularities and frauds were perpetrated, including multiple witnesses and video.
While the New York Times and the Washington Post are all-in on President-elect Cotton, the Guardian, Daily Kos, Democratic Underground, Raw Story, AlterNet, Common Dreams and other news and political commentary sites all lay out in detail exactly how the election was stolen from Kamala Harris, right down to identifying the perpetrators. And it's obvious, they say, that Republican politicians and their billionaire donors are behind the whole thing.
You turn to Facebook, which most of your life has been a comfortable place where you stay in touch with family and friends, and you figure must be an independent arbiter of the news, but because of the way Facebook's algorithm works all you see are posts from people all over the country sharing stories about how the election was stolen from Kamala Harris. There are also lots of ads from Biden and the Democrats documenting the theft of Harris's rightful election as president.
You check Twitter, and every tweet the platform's algorithm shows you is about how the election was stolen from Vice President Harris. You talk to a few friends who you think are pretty well informed, they watch the news and read the newspapers and the web, and they're all convinced the election was stolen. Anger is building fast.
The horrible truth dawns on you: a small coterie of rightwing billionaires have bought off Republican politicians, who, in turn, have corrupted the vote counting systems in their own states to throw the election to Tom Cotton. The fact that he's not the legitimate winner is now obvious, and the country is in danger.
In fact, it's a coup, an attempt to utterly destroy America and turn it into a full-blown fascist state, and it'll finally' successes on January 20, when Senator Cotton is sworn in as President Tom Cotton.
President Biden and Vice President Harris both again speak to the nation, saying that the election was stolen from Vice President Harris by corrupt Republican politicians in a half-dozen swing states. They say there is ample evidence of election irregularities, and they've initiated dozens of lawsuits to stop America from being stolen by Senator Tom Cotton and his Republican and billionaire cronies.
Now even The New York Times and the Washington Post are reporting on those lawsuits, and video of ballots being destroyed and ballot boxes being stuffed is all over the Internet, as friends you've known all your life are going out into the streets to protest.
What do you do?
What did good, patriotic Americans do in 1860 when traitors tried to take over America? Good Americans took up arms!
What did Americans do in 1776 when the British cranked their screws down on the city of Boston? Americans engaged in a million-dollar act of vandalism, the Boston Tea Party, that led right to a multi-year shooting war, the American Revolution, which we celebrate every year on the Fourth of July.
You drive home from work and the talk-show host on the radio is pounding his fist on the table, saying that if they're going to steal our government, dammit, we must fight back.
You turn the dial and another host you've listened to for years is saying the same thing, complete with multiple audio clips of President Biden and Vice President Harris saying that Senator Cotton engaged in a massive conspiracy to steal the vote.
And they're not the only ones. Fully 57% of all the elected Democrats in the House of Representatives, and a dozen Democratic senators are speaking out on social media and in the news, including on all the major television networks and Sunday news shows. They're saying they belive it's possible that Republican operatives in those swing states flipped the election to Senator Cotton and stole it from Vice President Harris. A few say they're certain of it and have the proof!
The Democratic leadership, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, don't outright endorse the conspiracy theories, but say that those allegations have credibility and they're deeply concerned. They plan hearings in Congress into if or how the election might have been stolen.
Isn't fighting back, saving the nation, the talkshow hosts and media pundits say, what American patriots have done in every generation when American democracy was threatened?
Vice president Harris calls for a march on Washington DC and, even though there are some single-issue groups who are clearly exploiting the situation to amplify their own importance, including "black block" protestors and anarchists who revel in vandalism, most of the people you know who're going are average Americans who are worried that their country has been hijacked.
What would you do?
I write this not to defend the people who stormed the capitols in DC in multiple states. Many of them are those single issue people - in this case the racists and Nazis - who are exploiting the situation. And the lawbreakers and, in particular, those who planned and executed this violence, must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
But the fact is that none of those people would have been there if it wasn't for Trump, Pence, a dozen Republican senators and over 140 Republican members of Congress, three different television networks, multiple "news" websites, and at least 100 talkshow hosts around the country all saying that Joe Biden and corrupt local Democratic officials in swing states, funded by democratic billionaires, stole the election.
The focus now, rightly, is on the criminals who invaded the capitol building and killed five people while trying to capture, kidnap or even murder Democratic leadership and Vice President Pence.
But without the President and Vice President of the United States, 57% of the Republican caucus in the House, a dozen senators, and this vast media machine put together by rightwing billionaires over the last 30 years, none of these people would've shown up in Washington DC in the way that they did.
Lower-level individuals who broke the law must be found and prosecuted. But let's not repeat what has become so common in America since the Reagan Revolution: giving a pass to those with wealth, elected power, and huge microphones across the radio and TV spectrum, who are even more culpable.
These are the same people who brought average Americans across the country out into the streets early in the Obama presidency to protest "socialism" in the form of the Affordable Care Act.
They built and primed their citizen army, both to earn advertising revenue and to expand their own Republican political power so they could get more deregulation, cheap labor and tax cuts.
The real villains here are those at the senior levels of the Republican Party, social media algorithms and rightwing media. And they must be held to account, as Arnold Schwarzenegger so eloquently points out.
The senators and congresspeople who promoted, and continue to promote, Trump's big lie must be expelled from Congress.
The President and Vice President, who promoted this lie for months, must be impeached.
And the thousands of media outlets and social media companies that carried and repeated these lies literally millions of times must inform Americans now exactly how our election result was accurate and that the outcome is truly fair.
A reckoning is essential, but if it's limited to low-level racists and average Americans who were fooled by Republican politicians and rightwing media, we're merely setting up the next cycle of political violence.
Originally posted on Medium.com