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Brianna Keilar of CNN speaks here about the post-insurrection efforts to rewrite history by those who were complicit in nurturing the mob and amplifying their grievances.
For months before the election, Trump warned that it would be rigged. He said that if he lost, it was proof that it was rigged. The only “fair” election, he warned, was one that he won. You may recall that in 2016, he repeatedly predicted a “rigged” election, but since he won, it wasn’t rigged.
Since the election, he has been obsessed by the certainty that the election was “rigged,” “stolen,” and the greatest political crime in American history. His campaign team filed 60 or so lawsuits, which failed in state and federal courts, including twice at the U.S. Supreme Court. It didn’t matter whether the judges were appointed by Democrats or Republicans, even Trump himself. There was no evidence of widespread election fraud. Even Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr said do.
But nothing could stop the slander against the election. Trump created a “Stop the Steal” movement of his most ardent cultists. His message was echoed by elected officials like Ted Cruz abd Josh Hawley, who hope to win the loyalty of the Trump base.
Trump summoned his cult to Washington in January 6 to rally them one more time to stop the certification of Joe Biden’s victory. He urged them to march to the Capitol, and he unleashed the Monster.
So far, five people have died because of the Trump-inspired insurrection. We can be grateful that the death toll was not greater and that the domestic terrorists did not set fire to the seat of our national government.
In the aftermath of the insurrection, some say “this is not who we are.” We are not haters, looters, thugs, and vandals. Sadly, this is who some of us are.
What do we do? We don’t appease the mob by holding hearings about blatant lies. As Mitt Romney said, what we owe the American people is the truth. They won’t get the truth from those who seek political gain by telling lies that stoke rage. When Trump’s hoax was twice tossed out by a Supreme Court dominated by six conservatives, including three he appointed, that should have ended the post-election battle. It didn’t because Trump and his enablers had an agenda that did not include the truth.
The deep divisions that Trump exploited won’t be healed anytime soon. As educators, we must remember that the first obligation of public schools is to develop good citizens. Not compliant citizen, not indoctrinated citizens, but citizens who are knowledgeable about our government and our institutions; citizens who can weigh evidence, listen to opposing views, and think critically about their decisions. We need citizens who can tell the difference between facts and propaganda. In rebuilding a functional democracy, we need education more than ever. Civic education is obviously not all that is needed for active participation in society, but it is crucial to sustain our democracy and strengthen it. As Ted Cruz and josh Hawley demonstrate, intellect is not enough when it becomes a tool of the unscrulous.
What matters most, I believe, is a combination of knowledge and character. People who knowingly lie do not have it. People who are driven by greed and ambition do not have it. Our Founding Fathers understood full well that men are not angels, and they created a Constitution of elaborate checks and balances to protest us from the predators who seek power by any means necessary. We have been reminded during these past four years that our democracy must be renewed in every generation. Its promise of equal justice for all is far from real and for too many, a false promise.
We must continue to work towards a better, fairer society. That work begins with truth-telling. We must demand it from our elected officials and practice it in our daily lives. That’s a start.