Fateful Day

Drawing Board: January 6 commissionThe 535 voting members of Congress were to assemble in the Chamber of the House of Representatives at 1:00 pm on January 6, 2021, to bear witness to the recording of electoral votes from the states as submitted following the November 2020 election. As a rule, joint sessions are ordinarily presided over by the Speaker but the Constitution mandates this occasion to be overseen by the Vice President. This process and procedure is the final step in the election of President and Vice President prior to their inauguration later in January.

Since the adoption of the nation’s Constitution, the peaceful transfer of power following national elections has stood as emblematic of the democratic ideals of the United States, a symbol to the world of the potential of free and fair elections.

The electoral results from the states are submitted in sealed envelopes and carried in two wooden boxes into the Chamber. Seals are broken by the VP and the documents, as certified by state governors, turned over to tellers appointed from among members of Congress for announcement to the entire group.

At 1:12 pm Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) objected to the acceptance of Arizona’s electoral votes, requiring members to adjourn to their respective chambers to debate the objection pursuant to procedural rules. One hour later, the first rioter enters the Capitol Building through a broken window. Within minutes of opening debate, VP Pence and Speaker Pelosi (as successors to the President) are escorted from their respective posts and both chambers recess.

At 2:24 pm, Trump tweets:

Mike Pence didn’t have the courage to do what should have been done to protect our Country and our Constitution, giving States a chance to certify a corrected set of facts, not the fraudulent or inaccurate ones which they were asked to previously certify. USA demands the truth.

Nearly five and a half hours later, at 8:00 pm, the Capitol Police declare that the building is secure. Reconvening, the Senate votes 93-6 against the objection to the Arizona electoral vote count. Several who previously indicated favoring the objection changed their minds due to the insurrection. Resuming debate at 9:00 pm, a vote on the motion is taken at 11:30 pm, rejecting the Gosar-Cruz motion by a vote of 303-121. All 121 who favored rejection are Republicans.

Nearly five and a half hours later, at 8:00 pm, the Capitol Police declare that the building is secure. Reconvening, the Senate votes 93-6 against the objection to the Arizona electoral vote count. Several who previously indicated favoring the objection changed their minds due to the insurrection. Resuming debate at 9:00 pm, a vote on the motion is taken at 11:30 pm, rejecting the Gosar-Cruz motion by a vote of 303-121. All 121 who favored rejection are Republicans.

It is now January 7 at 12:15 am when Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA) and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) present objections to the count of the Pennsylvania electors. Forty minutes later, the Senate votes 92-7 to reject the objection. Decorum in the House was not nearly so civil as reported by the Associated Press. When Conor Lamb (D-PA) remarked that the attack on the Capitol was “inspired by lies, the same lies you are hearing in this room tonight,” Morgan Griffith (R-VA) challenged the statement but his challenge was overruled by the Speaker. When order was restored, the House voted 282-138 to overturn the objection to the Pennsylvania count.

About 3:40 am on January 7, the electoral count was announced by VP Pence to be complete, with 302 for Biden/Harris and 232 for Trump/Pence, affirming the electoral results as submitted by the states.

Some might conclude that the peaceful transfer of power was never in danger and that the objections were mere “theater” or symbolic. While the Senate votes were lopsided, 32% of House members voting to reject the generally perfunctory acceptance of state-certified electors cannot be regarded as insignificant, as another 80 votes would constitute a majority in favor.

With one year of time elapsed, the lies asserted by a House member, rather than fading, have gained corroboration, even as popular vote audits and other challenges have proved the original tallies correct. More insidious, however, are reports of cooperation and coordination among individuals, some in Congress, to promote the theories of a stolen election and advocacy of the January 6th attempt to stall the electoral vote count.

With one year of time elapsed, the lies asserted by a House member, rather than fading, have gained corroboration, even as popular vote audits and other challenges have proved the original tallies correct. More insidious, however, are reports of cooperation and coordination among individuals, some in Congress, to promote the theories of a stolen election and advocacy of the January 6th attempt to stall the electoral vote count. Trump’s tweet castigating his own Vice President rested, in turn, upon dubious strategic and legal concoctions to nullify the November popular and electoral results. That effort to exert political dominance over popular and electoral processes and administration has continued and gained momentum. Polls have measured that as high as 68% of Republicans believe the 2020 election to be invalid.

It appears that the injuries to the nation’s democracy have left permanent scars that only time will heal. The November 2022 midterm campaigns are already in process, with many of the 138 Republicans seeking reelection. Whether the voting public and media will challenge the votes rendered by them last January remains to be seen. More intriguing may be the answers they offer to any questions on the matter. Common political wisdom consoles candidates that electorates have short memories. That brevity may not be so endemic given the power of the internet and social media. Even if it turns out that voters fail to appreciate just how near the democratic system came to being devastated, there are likely to be residual senses of a near miss.

Two years later, in 2024, the country will again cast ballots for President and Vice President. The character of that event will reveal the effects of the 2020 and January 6th dynamics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Categories: congress, elections, Issues, National, political discourse, political parties, politics, republicans, RULE OF LAW, VOTING RIGHTS

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