Stuck in a lingering COVID-19 pandemic and with emerging problems like inflation, many Americans don’t care about last year’s Capitol riots in Washington. And they certainly care more about economic issues than marking the one-year anniversary of the Jan. 6 debacle.
Indeed, the overwhelming majority of Americans would rather be able to visit loved ones (without a mask) or profit from a functioning supply chain than analyze the root causes of the Capitol riots. It is important to note, however, that the Electoral College roll call is outlined in the U.S. Constitution and the 12th Amendment. It is perfectly normal for Congress to review and declare the winner of a presidential election, especially when voter fraud is real.
Those Americans who do care about the Capitol riots generally won’t get the chance to hear dissenting options on the electoral process. They won’t hear about the root causes behind the Capitol riots. There are legitimate concerns about voter fraud and lack of trust in the media and political establishment, especially their decisions before the 2020 election.
Of course, the Capitol riots were deplorable and cannot be justified. But, that being said, how can traditional conservatives trust the media and political elites when those elites questioned the 2016 election and the legitimacy of President Trump for years? Why “take their word for it” when the Russian collusion hoax and other “scandals” receive 24/7 news coverage, while 2020-related concerns are squashed by the speech police?
We should all wonder why elected officials in the highest positions of the U.S. government are so concerned about the January 6 riots, as they say ad nauseam. The obsession with congressional hearings, military action and Capitol fencing in light of Jan. 6 suggest the riots are much more important to our political leaders than COVID-19 or inflation, for example.
Alas, Jan. 6 is important, although not for the reasons that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi may state. Not to justify them, but the root cause of the riots is the suppression of the First Amendment. More dialogue and transparency in the aftermath of the 2020 election could have made Jan. 6 a positive moment for America, rather than the negative memory it is now. If the concerns of Trump voters were noted and respected by elites, like Hillary Clinton’s 2016 complaints were noted and respected by the media, violence may have been avoided.
Yet America’s elites openly condemned Trump voters, ignoring and suppressing the right of people to peaceably petition their government for a redress of grievances. Democrats often forget it, but that right is clearly outlined in the First Amendment: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
Leftists were certainly enthusiastic about Trump’s loss in 2020, but they also limited public dissent and political activity in the midst of their celebrations. And they motivated a protest march that ultimately turned bad, very bad. Again, that is no excuse for yelling “fraud” in a crowded march down Pennsylvania Avenue or starting a riot, but we cannot pretend like the Capitol riots came out of nowhere either.
Despite what many Republican officials and even former vice president Mike Pence say, Jan. 6 was not entirely “unprecedented.” There is precedent for Congress to review a presidential election.
Similarly, the question of voter fraud remains a legitimate one. It is worth wondering why so many electoral restrictions were imposed in 2020 due to COVID-19, benefiting Democrats. The pandemic certainly influenced the 2020 election to a much greater extent than distant Russian posts on Facebook in 2016. But Americans never heard the end of “Russian collusion” in 2016, and it led Facebook to reform company policies by 2020.
The key takeaway from Jan. 6 is that the federal government must allow the most latitude on the First Amendment, which is justification for the political activity of the people. The government can and should go easier on the Capitol rioters than liberals may think, not unlike other rioters who want to be heard or protest a cause. Unfortunately, the Capitol rioters became a reason to stop any further 2020 election review. They not only derailed the process of state-by-state confirmation, but also provided members of Congress with the excuse to move on without doing their job. That is the ultimate shame of January 6, not some hyperbolic “attack on democracy.”
The moral of the story is this: If your rights are violated, do not storm the Capitol in a riot. Take it to the Supreme Court. You may just win, if the Constitution is considered.
Shaun McCutcheon is the author of “Outsider Inside the Supreme Court: A Decisive First Amendment Battle.” He wrote this for InsideSources.com.