For hyperventilating anti-Trump Leftists, the events of January 6th, 2021 represent the greatest attack on democracy in American history. According to this view, the Capitol “Riots” were devastating to the American project, on par with the October Revolution or at least the Beer Hall Pusch. For many conservatives, however, January 6th was an attempt by patriotic Americans to voice their frustration with a deeply corrupt government. It was a statement by the little people against the elites who govern us.
For me, it was a big nothing-burger.
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the January 6th protests, I’m sure we’ll see many commentaries from the corporate press speaking in dramatic tones about the attempted “insurrection.” The rewriting of history is their specialty, after all, and an opportunity to smear all conservatives with accusations of treason in the process is just too enticing for them to pass up.
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However, those of us who can remember all the way back to last year know the insurrection narrative has no basis in truth. Whether you believe the protesters forced their way into the Capitol building or were let in, the fact remains that there was no attempt to take over the government, no attack on government officials, and no demands made under threat of force—all the ingredients you need for an actual insurrection.
Nevertheless the January 6th protests were a sort of parting gift for anti-Trumpers, who spent four years trying to push Donald Trump out of office with trumped-up charges and now had an event they could hang on Trump’s head as he exited the White House.
Don’t think that Leftists haven’t been wringing their hands about Trump 2024 since the day he left office. They began their campaign against him in earnest on January 7th, and they will continue it until he either announces he’s not running (unlikely) or he loses in the primaries or general election. January 6th was a gift that keeps on giving, regardless of the facts of the day itself—who needs facts when you have scary words like “insurrection” to throw around?
But as easy as it is to critique the Left’s obsession with molding January 6th in its own anti-Trump, anti-conservative image, the day was no high point either for the former president or conservatives in general.
Even before the 2020 election was declared by the press for Biden, the Right—egged on by Trump and his representatives like Rudy Giuliani—cried election fraud. And, to be honest, it’s not inconceivable that the election was stolen by Team Biden. But Trump and his surrogates told conservatives that they had definitive proof of fraud. We just had to wait for the right time for it to be revealed. This created a frenzy among the Right, and rightly so if the election truly was stolen.
This is something I think we forget: if the 2020 Presidential election was stolen, then a few hundred people gathering in the Capitol building is actually a minor response to a crime of that magnitude. After all, a stolen election actually would be the greatest attack on American democracy and would justify a significant response.
But although Trump and his people implied, suggested, and just flat-out stated they could prove election fraud, they never actually did. After being built into a frenzy, Trump supporters had nothing to show for it. Millions of Americans were willing to consider evidence of fraud, but none was forthcoming. Sure, there were videos that suggested fraud and definitely some funny business going on, but clear-cut proof of fraud on a level to sway the election results never was provided, even though it was promised again and again and again.
After January 6th, Trump quickly distanced himself from the activities at the Capitol, throwing his supporters under the bus when he realized how they would taint him. But the damage had already been done, and the Left could run with the narrative that Trump himself was responsible for an insurrection. While not factually true, it had a whiff of the truth to it, which is all the Left ever needs.
That’s why in the end I think the January 6th protests were full of sound and fury, signifying nothing (and mostly told by idiots as well). The Left wants to make it something it’s not, while the Right wants to forget the real issues that led up to it. But it wasn’t an insurrection and it wasn’t a productive resistance to actual government corruption. It was a few hundred people who entered a building they shouldn’t have, for little reason other than to post photos on social media.
January 6th, 2021, from any perspective, was not America’s finest hour, but its rich symbolism with little substance is perhaps a perfect representation of modern America.
[Photo Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images]