Midterms of 2022 will be for January 6: Democrats can win if they fight Trump’s big lie

Donald Trump may have canceled his press conference to celebrate the first anniversary of the January 6 uprising he instigated on Capitol Hill, but he still managed to communicate his desire for the event to be hailed as a glorious revolution. He wants to whitewash an act of domestic terrorism in the name of fascism, making life extremely hard for Republican politicians who wish to remain on the fence on the issue. A year later, Republican leaders continue to hedge their bets. They are attempting both to appeal to the Trump base by pretending to believe there are “questions” about the validity of the 2020 election and also to appeal to swing voters and moderates by publicly denouncing the violence of the insurgency fueled by such “questions”. But playing in the gray zone may not be an option for Republicans any longer – if Ted Cruz is very bad, no good week was any indication.

Cruz’s misfortunes began on Wednesday when he rightly called the Capitol riot a “violent terrorist attack” and praised the Capitol police for their courage in responding. It should be noted that Cruz should not get any credit for this. Like most GOP leaders, he is meddling for Trump by engaging in a massive gas lighting effort, where Republicans will admit the violence has occurred, but claim it had nothing to do with it. with Trump or his lies about the 2020 election. Yet Trump has long been hostile to such political triangulation tactics, especially when it comes to his own ego. He clearly wants the insurgency to be celebrated as a triumphant strike in his war on democracy, not that cutesy “violence is bad” speech.

So, unsurprisingly, Fox News’ Tucker Carlson lashed out at Cruz, insisting that “it was certainly not a violent terrorist attack.” (It absolutely was. The FBI defines terrorism as violence committed “to other ideological objectives”, which is the case with storming the Capitol to overthrow an election 100%.) And Cruz , equally unsurprisingly, went on Fox News the following night to crawl for forgiveness, calling its wording “sloppy” and “stupid.” But because Cruz kept insisting that attacking the police was a mistake – while he downplayed the number of Trump supporters who engaged in this behavior – Carlson kept pushing it. tear up, making it clear that any swear words against Trumpian violence are simply unacceptable.

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The incident was the culmination of a year of efforts – and now hugely successful – by the far-right to align the GOP not only with Trump’s big lie, but also with the belief that violence in the name of big lie is not only acceptable. , but commendable. This is something that Republican leaders have resisted. At first, the reluctance seemed due to the fact that many of them were genuinely shaken by the coming of a crowd for their lives. Now, however, it is purely for political reasons.

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Polls show a huge majority of Americans disapprove of the insurgency on Capitol Hill. But in the 2024 election showdown, President Joe Biden and Trump are neck and neck. This can only mean that a lot of voters are happy to vote Republican, as long as they can keep telling themselves a story that Republicans are not the party of the violent insurgency.

This is why Cruz and other Republican figureheads – including, at times, Carlson himself – are drawn to a January 6 story that describes the event as a random anomaly, instead of the direct result of months. of Trump’s promotion of violence. Even Trump himself understands that capturing those more moderate votes for Republicans likely means supporting this ridiculous turn of events and falsifying a story where the GOP is a normal political party. That’s why, reluctantly, he canceled his celebratory event on January 6, at the behest of Republican leaders who believe there is a way to push the big lie without also embracing the violence that has resulted from it.

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Cruz’s situation suggests that it may be untenable, however. There is not and never has been a way to be for Trump against his coup or the violence he exploited in his ultimate attempt to steal the election. Supporting Trump is supporting what Trump stands for, namely a violent insurgency in the name of fascism. The only way Republican leaders can continue to walk this tightrope, claiming to be somehow for Trump but not for his violent insurgency, is if the issue isn’t at the forefront of the 2022 midterms. Unfortunately for Republican leaders, this is unlikely to happen, for several reasons.

On the one hand, celebrating Trump’s coup is a surefire way to engage and excite even the most die-hard Republican voters. As Axios reported on Monday morning, prominent Republican candidates – including some Senate candidates – are campaigning heavily on the Big Lie, finding that it’s a great way to raise heaps of donations. On the other hand, Trump’s ego will not let the problem go away. He may have canceled his January 6 celebration, but he has made it clear that he intends to keep the pace of pro-insurgency rhetoric in his various rallies and other communications.

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Democrats can – and absolutely should – make sure Republicans can’t play this game.

Democratic candidates must resist the urge induced by campaign consultants to always change the subject to “kitchen table matters.” Instead, by November (and ideally as long as needed) Democrats should not treat their opponents as if they are in a friendly disagreement on tax rates, but make sure they have to respond. of Trump and his violence every day. Bring up the insurgency often, in debates and in advertisements, and make sure it is never far from the voters’ minds. It doesn’t have to be instead of talking about kitchen table issues, but it just can’t be forgotten, as Republicans sincerely want.

As Cruz’s example shows, Republicans don’t have much leeway on this issue, as they are trapped by Fox News and the right-wing media. Attempts to distance themselves from the violence increasingly result in a harsh rebuke from Carlson and other powerful right-wing pundits and leaders. This is why the insurgency is, despite being an unusual event in American history, is still a standard issue wedge issue, one that pits the GOP base against the moderate voters they need to win the elections. (Although we still have an election, which might not last longer if Democrats screw up the 2022 midterms.)

The good news is that in delivering a January 6 speech where he didn’t hesitate to blame Trump, Biden gave the go-ahead to the rest of the party to make January 6 a central campaign issue. The House special committee on the January 6 attack also appears poised to continue to disseminate information and generate information that prevents Republicans from remembering the event itself or Trump’s central role in it. this.

There is a reason Fox News and Republican leaders are feigning outrage against Democrats for “politicizing” Trump’s act of political terrorism. They want to scare Democrats off of talking about an issue that will rally voters to their side. Democrats should take this bogus outrage as further evidence to address the issue, and not give in to this cowardly urge to avoid the controversy that has already caused them to lose the election.

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