The furniture the seditionists smashed in the Capitol has not yet been repaired. The trauma inflicted on those who experienced the event will not vanish for months or years. The mourning for those killed on Jan. 6 has barely begun. And neither President Trump nor a single Republican lawmaker who held aloft the sedition banner in Congress by objecting to electoral votes has apologized. Nevertheless, Republicans are calling for unity and demanding healing, which entails “moving on” and forgetting about impeachment. This will replace the definition of chutzpah (previously illustrated by the child who kills his parents and then throws himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan).
Sorry, it does not work that way. Healing requires accountability and remorse from those who attacked our democracy, stormed the Capitol (or incited, funded or supported the mob) and set out to overthrow our democracy. The culprits do not get to set the timeline for reconciliation before they can be held responsible for their participation in an attempted coup.
Lots of things would be unifying or provide healing. Let’s start with these:
- The House and Senate could unanimously affirm there was no irregularity or fraud in the election that would have changed the outcome of the presidential vote one iota.
- The House could impeach Trump, and the Senate could come back in session to hold a trial and remove him swiftly.
- House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), who pulled his caucus over the cliff in the desperate hope to maintain the Big Lie and cater to Trump, could resign.
- A combination of Democrats and all Republicans who voted to certify the electoral college results in the House and Senate could expel or censure members who objected to certification. As my colleague Michael Scherer writes, “The central question now hovering over America’s political landscape is whether one of its two major parties will allow itself to function as an extension of QAnon and other online conspiracy theory movements that have taken hold with a vocal segment of the GOP, or if it can emerge from the Trump era as a potential governing coalition built around ideas and some shared agreement on facts.” This action would help settle that question.
- Corporate donors could permanently cut off support for anyone who objected to the electoral votes, an attack on our democracy.
- Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms could volunteer to make entirely transparent how they “curate content” and how their “algorithms decide what speech to amplify,” as Yaël Eisenstat, a former Facebook executive, suggests. We should find out how they “nudge users towards the content that will keep them engaged ... [and] connect users to hate groups, who recommend conspiracy theorists.” The companies could also agree to follow the guidelines recommended by the Stop Hate for Profit campaign headed by the Anti-Defamation League and major corporate advertisers.
- A nonpartisan commission could determine the extent to which state and federal law enforcement has been infiltrated by adherents of violent extremist groups. (The Post reports, “At least two U.S. Capitol Police officers have been suspended and more than a dozen others are under investigation for suspected involvement with or inappropriate support for the Wednesday demonstration that turned into a deadly riot at the Capitol, according to two congressional officials briefed on the developments.”)
- Right-wing media outlets, pundits, talk-show personalities and TV hosts who perpetrated the lie that there was widespread election fraud could retract their statements and affirm there is no factual basis for these assertions.
- The voters in the 18 states whose attorneys general filed a brief to throw out other states’ electoral votes could recall or vote out these officials.
That should be enough to get us started. Beyond that, there are many good ideas for enhancing civics education, media literacy and access to voting on a permanent basis (e.g., pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act; make available universal, secure voting by mail). You can never have too much healing.
Watch more Opinions videos:
Katrina vanden Heuvel: Progressives know best how to turn the page on the Trump years. Biden should listen.
The Jan. 6 insurrection
The report: The Jan. 6 committee released its final report, marking the culmination of an 18-month investigation into the violent insurrection. Read The Post’s analysis about the committee’s new findings and conclusions.
The final hearing: The House committee investigating the attack on the U.S. Capitol held its final public meeting where members referred four criminal charges against former president Donald Trump and others to the Justice Department. Here’s what the criminal referrals mean.
The riot: On Jan. 6, 2021, a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to stop the certification of the 2020 election results. Five people died on that day or in the immediate aftermath, and 140 police officers were assaulted.
Inside the siege: During the rampage, rioters came perilously close to penetrating the inner sanctums of the building while lawmakers were still there, including former vice president Mike Pence. The Washington Post examined text messages, photos and videos to create a video timeline of what happened on Jan. 6. Here’s what we know about what Trump did on Jan. 6.