Have the Jan. 6 Committee Hearings Changed Any Minds?

U.S. Capitol on a cloudy day
Photo by Harold Mendoza on Unsplash

Have the Jan. 6 Committee hearings changed any minds? The day after the first televised hearing aired, I heard mixed reactions. Some found it effective and said they were looking forward to the remaining hearings. Others complained that there was no new information presented. I'm not sure if they realized it was the first of many hearings. Or maybe they already know everything worth knowing. We all know people like that, don't we?

I've watched all the hearings that have aired so far, and I've found them impressive. Much of the information presented was new to me. I had the broad strokes but not the details. Many of the witnesses brought these details to life. The case against Trump was far more damning than I expected it to be. But that isn't what stands out to me as the take-home message.

The hearings have shown me how much worse the situation was than I'd realized. We came far too close to losing our democracy. The attempted coup was not accidental, and it almost succeeded. Our democracy seems perilous in a way it hasn't before. That was the main take-home message for me. I'm glad the threat was repelled, but I'm worried that this won't be the last threat we face.

Using myself as an example, I'll suggest that the hearings may have changed some minds. Nobody has ever hit me with a cattle prod, so I can't pretend to know what it feels like. The hearings felt like what I imagine getting hit with a cattle prod might feel like. Before the hearings, I thought I was paying attention. After the hearings, I realize I wasn't paying close enough attention. They've jolted me awake.

The thought bouncing around in my head is simple but disturbing: the war has started. I haven't been able to silence this thought even though I'd like to do so. How are the Trumpian forces anything but domestic terrorists who have declared war on the rest of us? Not long ago, I would have dismissed such a suggestion as hyperbole. Hell, I have dismissed it as hyperbole! I was wrong. I didn't see it because I didn't want to see it.

Christian Nationalism and white supremacy are anti-democratic. The warning signs have been there for some time. Remember how Jeff Sharlet tried to warn us we had a serious problem back in 2009? Even though I read his book and wrote about how much it affected me, optimistic thinking got the best of me. I figured those anti-democratic forces would recede in the light. That didn't happen.

Donald Trump was not content with the presidency. He aspired to be a dictator and was willing to use any means necessary to stay in power. Remember how he considered having soldiers round up voting machines? I'm not convinced he's abandoned this goal. I'm also not persuaded that we're safe from him achieving it yet. He's been putting structures in place that will make his return to power easier in 2024.

So yes, the Jan. 6 Committee hearings have changed my mind. I'm paying attention in a way I wasn't before. I'm more determined than ever to fight back against the threat. I have no interest in living in a Christian theocracy ruled by a delusional dictator. I may be a long-time fan of Pink Floyd, but that doesn't mean I'm eager to see what they depicted in The Wall become a reality.

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