Commentary by John Marshall Lee
The current hearings (Congressional variety), have featured sessions where the public can stop (briefly from daily activities), look (at taped or in-person sessions under oath by fellow Americans), and listen (to the way questions are asked and answered). It is how we may participate as an informal jury of taxpayers to discriminate FACT from FICTION in the testimony presented. Congresspersons from both parties, some with legal, and specifically prosecutorial experience in the real world, have focused on the Jan. 6 ‘violent confrontation’ or ‘civil insurrection’ in Washington DC as a most serious challenge to democracy and the rule of law. The action at the Capitol such as we knew it at the time had many declaring that Biden was elected winner the previous November. But a large number of Americans bought into a story from former President Trump and his supporters, termed the “Big Lie,” which says that the election had been stolen from him and punctured by illegality.
Members of the Republican Party, both high and low, whether voters or those in office, greatly believed the BIG LIE and many other stories based on the BIG LIE. However, the secret details of Trump’s desperate struggle to remain in office dealing with electoral process in key states, or illegal influence in others, were basically unknown. But at day’s end a week before Christmas, 2021, the cupboard was bare for those who had submitted what they thought was court worthy evidence of wrongdoing. But did the BIG LIE die? No.
The Jan. 6 Committee is ready to raise one more curtain, perhaps the last, next week. But what does the accumulated pile of facts, laboriously assembled from folks who have come forward to render a true story (under oath) that they had lived? The oral and print stories fashion a fascinating story of recent history on their own. Will these tales become more than history without consequences? Who can (or will) indict what look like slam dunk cases including obstruction of justice, potential witness tampering, financial conflicts with election laws, seditious insurrection, disobeying rules or process regarding bullying and intimidation and likely more? What Court in the land will have the potential to prosecute and deal justice that is understood and trusted by Americans? What lessons about American Democracy will be taught in future History and Civics classes on the basis of deep and broad evidence already in the public realm? Who or what constitutes a “jury of peers” in this case?
To protect democracy and its practices in marching forward, with healing and repair where indicated, we need to seriously consider the above questions and more, especially with the timing of elections in 2022 and rapidly upcoming in 2024. Personally speaking, with whom do you chance a good conversation to share your thoughts and listen to others, assuming all parties believe in American Democracy? Or why miss such a chance? And today, how do you address someone who believes in stories without evidence to provide foundation for future political support? How will they separate Fiction and Fact? Time will tell.