A Turning Point

Author: Gary Hart

.A Turning Point

It is too soon for a consensus to form over the meaning of the events of the 6th of January, 2021.  One thing is certain, however.  For the first time in our nation’s history, our Capitol was besieged by insurrectionists.

For some it was no more than a frat prank that got out of hand.  In the new denial culture, a United States Senator claimed that he did not see an armed insurrection.  This claim despite the trashing of his Senate Chamber and rummaging inside Senate desks, possibly his own.

In this Senator’s eyes, “armed” is a term reserved for firearms, not clubs, baseball bats, metal flag poles, battering rams, and the loss of lives.

And “insurrection” is apparently beyond the scope of efforts to capture, and possibly murder, the Vice President of the United States, the Speaker of the House, and assault on fellow Senators and Members of the House.  Security cameras captured film of his Senate colleagues running down back hallways to avoid a mob out for blood, but that does not rise to the elevated level of insurrection.

For most of the sane world, however, this domestic riot did qualify for the category of a day that will live in infamy.

It continues to shock the conscience of serious citizens who refuse to accept the protective brush off designed to absolve a deranged president who had for sixty days claimed the national election to have been stolen, his own performance a landslide win, and massive voter fraud, all without scintilla of proof, who summoned the mob to Washington prevent the Constitutional duty of counting electoral votes and declaring a new presidency, and who saw the lawful transfer of power as a barrier to his own autocracy.

But, we live in a time when even the most shocking historical events are superseded within hours by stories of power struggles within the Republican party, the flow or lack thereof of Covid-19 vaccines, and elected officials censured for telling the truth and doing their duty.  Perhaps this hurly-burly was best summarized by a Republican official in Pennsylvania castigating his Republican Senator for voting to convict Trump of incitement to insurrection by saying, “we did not send him to Washington to do what is right.”

There is cause to wonder whether a whole society has been so desensitized that it cannot come to grips morally or politically with acts of insurrection, the overthrow of Constitutional and societal norms, and outright criminal behavior by the highest officers in the land.  All this is so far beyond our experience and even our imagination that it cannot be absorbed individually or collectively.

And how is this stunning incident being explained to the nation’s children and young people either by their teachers or their parents?  It simply cannot be brushed off as just another spat in Washington by unruly politicians.  A generation of young Americans saw adult Americans destroying the citadel of democracy while howling for blood.  And blood they got.  People died.  We had a prolonged glimpse of the breakdown of law and order, of madness, of barbarity, of mass insanity.

And yet, a United States Senator now says that he saw no armed insurrection.  He should be asked how he would describe how that might look.

All this to ask, does the 6th of January represent a turning point for America and for democracy?

And for those of us who think about political systems philosophically and thematically, how will our democracy respond to the breakdown of our democratic ideals and, even more importantly, have we lost the Republic Benjamin Franklin said was our responsibility to keep?

10 Responses to “A Turning Point”

  1. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    I think there is a turning point. And, it is called the Biden administration. Biden is currently in the process of redefining bipartisanship and it has nothing to do with Congress. My all-time favourite US senator (RFK is my favourite AG) is governing for the people – for ALL of the people – regardless of political persuasion. So long as he takes his message to the people from the needs of the people, he is strengthening US democracy and reviving America’s global leadership role.

  2. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    If certain Senators, the one of whom you spoke, and Representatives are not held accountable and responsible for their actions and words regarding the events of 6 January, the insurrection, then what good will be served by punishing those, who physically performed the acts that were the insurrection? That would be akin to holding the enlisted and civilian personnel of the German military and government responsible for the acts of Germany during WWII and trying them at Nuremburg, instead of the leaders of the German government and military. It is those in this instance, who incited the perpetrators, who should be punished the most. Until that is done, all else is for naught.

  3. Michael Says:

    When the presidency is routinely won by the person getting fewer votes; when the Senate is usually controlled by a party that represents tens of millions of people less than the opposition, and the will of the majority habitually thwarted by the filibuster when it doesn’t; when hyper-gerrymandering also often leads to minority control of that chamber, we have already lost the Republic. When the system makes the will of the majority commonly irrelevant, then insurrection against that majority doesn’t seem like a big deal.

  4. H. Patrick Pritchard Says:

    Perhaps it is time to remember what Ben Franklin and his cohorts bequeathed to us.
    How often do we need to be reminded that this country was founded on the basis of rule by law and not by the dictates of one person?

    The soul of this nation is not embedded in the pronouncements of one individual but in the foundation of two documents: The Constitution and the Declaration of Independence.

    The founding fathers in their infinite wisdom created three branches of government equal in stature to provide the general populace protection against the tyranny of one branch or person.
    We opted not for a king or ruler but for the wisdom of a group of elected representatives; an independent judiciary; and an executive branch to conduct the government’s business in concert.

    The government of, for and by the people is not a corporation or business entity that is driven by a CEO in an autocratic manner. Businesses by their very nature are not democratic institutions. It is erroneous to believe that you can run the government like a business. Its is definitely apples and oranges!

    We have gotten off-track in this country by believing that one person or one group or one party has all the answers to our problems to the exclusion of all others. All the progress made in this country that benefited the general populace was made through negotiation and cooperation not confrontation, rancor and misplaced competition.
    We cannot place the blame of our countries inadequacies at the feet of any one group be they religion, skin color, national origin, sexual orientation, station in life or political affiliation. WE need to discontinue our quest for a earthly savior and instead revive our need to find ways to cooperate with each other.

    It seems to me in some quarters governance means the pursuit of power at all cost no matter the consequences. If that thinking prevails we will not sustain a Republic and be subjected to the whims of a 21st Century King George and his lackeys!

  5. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    “In the new denial culture, a United States Senator claimed that he did not see an armed insurrection.” He along with a far too great a number of his fellow repubicans, both elected and not must be suffering from what one of my political science professors described as “cranial-anal-itis”. This malady does prevent one from seeing obvious and creditable occurrences and events which the majority of our citizens have seen and believe did occur. I find it amazing that an individual suffering from this ailment is able to function as a member of the Senate.

  6. Gary Hart Says:

    Patience, dear friends. computer collapse. Fixed in a day or two. GH

  7. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    No worries, Senator … computer collapses are almost the worst. 🙂


    Every comment apposite, article, colleagues.

    Had the insurrection been with the much backed chosen means of defence or attack, in the US, ie. guns, those senators of course would relate better to it, though might have reacted with equal lack of complete outrage.

    The US is so much more violent than most democracies. It is not felt everywhere there, but figures for crime reveal it to be shockingly thus.

    Only when the society, culture, media, realise that, and the left as well as the right realise that culture, media play a role, can there be greater outrage at similar violence.

    There was an armed rebellion, but the country is used to violence and violent language. The then President only made it all worse and directly egged on the actual incident by his manner, words, attitudes, with a lot of input from the egregious, in a sense, far worse, Giuliani!

  9. Eric C. Jacobson Says:


    “And yet, a United States Senator now says that he saw no armed insurrection. He should be asked how he would describe how that might look.”

    Alas, the Republican Senator’s false witness antics to which the host refers is all-too-typical of the Goebbelsian/Orwellian truth-inversion his party has habitually been practicing over the 5 consecutive decades since Reagan’s inauguration in Jan. 1980. Indeed it could easily be argued GOP leaders have been at their propaganda assault on the citadel of American decency CONTINUOUSLY since Eisenhower left office!

    But (as the cunning video riposte linked above attests) the Wisconsin Senator’s dull daft deceits don’t begin to compare to the far more sophisticated and dangerously villainous gaslighting of Trump himself and his “lawyer cat” Guiliani and their gang of would-be Roland Freislers.

    Parody Project Video Credits:
    Executive Producers Sally Headley and Jerry Pender
    Parody of I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major General (Gilbert & Sullivan)
    Lyrics my Marcus Bales | Performed by Don Caron

  10. Eric C. Jacobson Says:

    Doh! Double typo. The sentence should read:

    “Alas, the Republican Senator’s false witness antics to which the host refers is all-too-typical of the Goebbelsian/Orwellian truth-inversion his party has habitually been practicing over the 4 consecutive decades since Reagan’s inauguration in Jan. 1981.”

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