January 6 riot hearings are political theater
US television viewers, minus those that watch Fox News, were bombarded with coverage of the January 6 Congressional hearings as they began on June 9. The hearings are part of an investigation into the causes of the Capitol riots that took place on January 6, 2021, aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 presidential election.
From a journalistic point of view, it is hoped by the media that shining a light on the events that took place at the Capitol on that now-infamous day will raise awareness about political arrest in the country. At the same time, politicians from the Democratic Party are hoping to focus on this issue to rally their base for the pivotal 2022 midterm elections this November in spite of generally low enthusiasm.
As well-intentioned as any of this might be, it is horribly out of touch with where people’s concerns are. Poll after poll has shown that voters are concerned about soaring inflation, rising COVID-19 cases, and record fuel prices. The violence at the Capitol some 17 months ago is nowhere to be found among their top concerns.
To be sure, the events of January 6 were alarming. Days after it happened, I wrote a piece for CGTN pointing out the systemic rot it indicated when right-wing fanatics could launch an attempted putsch against the government with little resistance, meanwhile police were violently dispersing and even disappearing anti-racist protesters just months prior.
It cannot be understated that, indeed, since January 6 happened and since white supremacist domestic terrorism is still such an ongoing and growing threat, there is undoubtedly more to come on this issue. There are reports, including a recent one from Politico, that at least some US mercenaries fighting in Ukraine are actually far-right extremists hoping to gain combat experience for a civil war at home, which is apparently a concern for the US government.
This is all a serious concern – and that’s why I believe the hundreds of arrests and stiff sentences handed down to organizers and attendees are justified. It’s also why I believe there needs to be more accountability for the Republican politicians, like former President Donald Trump, that facilitated the failed insurrection.
However, the TV spectacle surrounding the January 6 hearings shows that Congress and the media are out of touch. That is, they are more worried about the danger posed to the elite than they are about the material conditions of average Americans that are, objectively, deteriorating rapidly. Focusing on something that happened 17 months ago, after the justice system has already aggressively pursued perpetrators, does little to help the public and will only backfire.
Instead of Democratic Party leaders colluding with TV executives to rehash those events, what if they decided to highlight the dangers of Republican policies? For example, why not have well-covered Congressional hearings and investigations into gun violence? Or on abortion rights? Or on inflation? These are all things that the American public cares about – so why not focus on them?
Well, a lot of this probably has to do with the fact that the Democratic Party itself is responsible for a lot of the destitution Americans feel. We are often told that Democrats would like to pass certain policies that might help the American people, but that Republicans are tying their hands. When one examines this point carefully, it’s revealed to be plainly false.
On the crippling student debt soon to hit Americans again after the debt pause ends in a few months, President Joe Biden could wipe it all away with the stroke of a pen. He has refused to do that. Biden could have also supported dialogue prior to the outbreak of Russia’s “special operation” in Ukraine but refused – and he is still undermining a political solution by funneling weapons to Kiev.
On guns and abortion, the Democratic Party’s leadership has actively campaigned for pro-gun and so-called “pro-life” candidates within its own ranks. They also let the expanded child tax credit, a policy that cut childhood poverty in half, expire because of disagreements in their own ranks.
Again, all of this goes to show that Democrats are out of touch. In fact, the entire ruling American elite is out of touch with where people are – and that’s precisely why they want to laser in on January 6. It’s not because they care about white supremacists coming to power or threats to democracy; it’s because they’re worried about themselves, their own safety, and their hold on power.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.