The Democratic Party is keeping the memory of Jan. 6, 2021, from fading in a bid to cast Republicans as foes of good governance who would rather sow political chaos than deliver for voters.
President Joe Biden marked the second anniversary of the Capitol ransacking Friday with a White House ceremony recognizing law enforcement who defended the Capitol from rioters seeking to overturn the 2020 election, as well as election workers who resisted pressure from former President Donald Trump and GOP allies to manipulate the outcome. Top congressional Democrats are being more pointed, accusing Republicans of continuing to stoke the flames of an “insurrection” fomented by grassroots Trump supporters.
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“While democracy prevailed, the threats remain as far-right extremists and leaders of the Republican Party continue to embrace lies, promote dangerous conspiracy theories, and fail to condemn colleagues who incite violence,” Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-WA), the new chairwoman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in a statement.
“Today, there are members of Congress that perpetuated the ‘Big Lie’ that led to the insurrection,” she added. “And yet, their party is now tasked with leading a branch of government whose objective is to protect and defend our democratic values.”
On Jan. 6, 2021, the majority of House Republicans then in office voted against certifying Biden’s Electoral College victory and paving the way for his inauguration. They voted that way even after the riot was quelled and the certification process continued. Two years later, a relatively small faction of Trump-aligned Republicans still insists the former president’s unfounded claims about the 2020 election are true.
But that has not stopped Biden from warning that they threaten the health of American democracy. Indeed, Biden’s concern was a key component of his campaign messaging in the 2022 midterm elections. He even devoted a major speech to the topic as Election Day approached.
Biden’s decision to award the Presidential Citizens Medal to law enforcement and election workers affected by the aftermath of the 2020 election suggests he plans to continue to use the issue to put the GOP on the defensive as 2024 and a possible White House reelection campaign approaches. Judging by DelBene’s comments and the statements issued by congressional Democrats, that appears to be a strategy being adopted by the Democratic Party writ large.
“Two years ago, on Jan. 6, our democracy was attacked. There’s no other way of saying it,” Biden said as he presided over the medal ceremony. “A violent mob of insurrectionists assaulted law enforcement, vandalized sacred halls, hunted down elected officials — all for the purpose of [attempting] to overthrow the will of the people and usurp the peaceful transfer of power.”
“All of it — all of it — was fueled by lies about the 2020 election.”
The continued focus on what happened on Capitol Hill on Jan. 6, 2021, by Biden and the Democrats makes some political sense.
The first midterm elections under the 46th president was predicted to be a Republican wave. Many political observers, Democrats among them, questioned the wisdom of Biden’s decision to give so much attention to Jan. 6 rather than place more emphasis in speeches close to Election Day on kitchen table issues such as inflation and crime. But on Nov. 8, Democrats increased their Senate majority and stemmed their losses in the House.
Republicans won the House majority. However, their advantage in the chamber is just roughly a handful of seats.
Judging by the internal divisions roiling House Republicans that threatened to block Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), their designated choice for speaker, from the gavel, their ability to govern in the 118th Congress could prove nearly impossible. Democrats are using this week’s events and the second anniversary of Jan. 6 together to make the case that Republicans cannot be trusted with any more control of the government than they have already accrued.
“If we were in a presidential election cycle, we would be unable to certify the Electoral College results because we still have no #HouseofRepresentatives due to House Republican chaos,” Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) said in a Twitter post. “The American people will not want House Republicans in charge in two years. Guaranteed.”