Former Reagan staffer explains why the Capitol insurrection was a frightening victory for extremism and MAGA

Former Reagan staffer explains why the Capitol insurrection was a frightening victory for extremism and MAGA
US Capitol Grounds East Plaza off First Street and East Capitol Street, Washington DC on Wednesday afternoon, 6 January 2021 by Elvert Barnes Photography

It was almost a year ago, on January 6, 2021, that a violent insurrectionist mob of Donald Trump supporters attacked the U.S. Capitol Building in the hope of stopping Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s Electoral College victory in the 2020 presidential election. The insurrectionists didn’t succeed, and Biden was sworn in as president 14 days later. But Never Trump conservative Mona Charen, in a disturbing article published by The Bulwark on January 5, laments that in some respects, the Capitol riot was a success for the MAGA movement —which, she warns, has succeeded in “warping” and perverting the Republican Party and laying the groundwork for another coup attempt in the future.

“The most threatening aspect of January 6 was not the ferocious attack on the Capitol, but the response of Republican officeholders thereafter,” Charen explains. “Even after the unleashing of medieval mob violence, even after the erection of a gallows, even after members had been forced to run for their lives, even after the deaths and injuries — even after all of that and more — 147 Republican members of Congress voted not to certify Joe Biden as the winner of the presidency. The transformation of the GOP from a political party into an authoritarian personality cult became official that day. (House Minority Leader Kevin) McCarthy’s bootlicking visit to Mar-a-Lago in late January 2021 merely provided the visual.”

Charen continues, “In the year since, most Republicans, with some extremely honorable exceptions, have descended further into cultishness. They blocked the creation of an independent January 6 commission, attempted to pack the congressional January 6 committee with Trump Dobermans like Rep. Jim Jordan, and engaged in flagrant gaslighting about the events of that day. Rep. Andrew Clyde was typical; he had been photographed screaming in alarm on January 6 and barricading a door to the chamber, but he told his constituents in May that January 6 had been a ‘normal tourist visit.’”

The 64-year-old Charen, who worked in the Reagan White House during the 1980s and was a speechwriter for First Lady Nancy Reagan, hasn’t been shy about lambasting liberals and progressives over the years. But the conservative columnist/author has been a blistering critic of Trump and the MAGA movement, which she believes has been toxic for the Republican Party — and in 2020, she endorsed Biden.

Countless Republicans, Charen notes, have been whitewashing the events of January 6, 2021 while carrying out a “systematic purging of officials who did the right thing in the 2020 election.”

“Remember Aaron Van Langevelde, a GOP member on the Michigan Board of Canvassers who refused to lie about the vote count?” Charen writes. “He’s out, and his family needs police protection. Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has been removed from the board overseeing election certification, and is being primaried, as is Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Local GOP groups are censuring Republicans who voted for impeachment. Across the country, Republican officials who stood in the breach when it counted and did the right thing are being hounded from office. Members who voted to impeach are resigning or close to resigning.”

Charen wraps up her column on a dark note, warning that although 2020’s coup attempt didn’t keep Trump in the White House, that doesn’t mean that the next MAGA coup attempt won’t work.

The conservative writer writes, “John Adams cautioned that character is essential to self-government…. An updated version of Adams might add that a people beguiled, deluded, and propagandized cannot be trusted to uphold the pillars of the democratic process. Trump failed at his improvised coup, but he succeeded in warping enough of the electorate to make another attempt — and even success — all too possible.”

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