The House Select Committee Investigation of the January 6 Attack —widely praised for its concision, lack of political grandstanding, and compelling presentation—methodically documented how Donald Trump and many co-conspirators planned crimes to disrupt the lawful transition of power that included provoking the deadly attacks in Washington, D.C.
The committee is a rare bipartisan success story, right? Not so fast. True, no unbiased observer can reasonably deny the damning evidence, including testimony by Republicans who supported Trump. But powerful people routinely evade accountability for crimes of all kinds, regardless of the evidence.
While more than 840 people have been criminally charged for the January 6 attack on our country, and over 340 have been convicted thus far, those charged are overwhelmingly people duped into action by the insurrection’s architects.
Unless people like Mark Meadows (former White House Chief of Staff), Rudy Guliani, and Trump himself face official consequences for their crimes against our republic, the hearings could merely escalate public cynicism while further emboldening the ongoing attempts to subvert democracy.
Democracy is central to the faith of Unitarian Universalists, who are working worldwide for justice. That often means working in solidarity with historically marginalized people—including people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, and people with disabilities—in order to uphold the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Yet justice also requires accountability for powerful people who create injustice by depriving others of their rights.
Demands for accountability are driven not by retribution but by the necessity to prevent the next attack on democracy. As the Unitarian Universalist Association made clear on the first anniversary of the January 6 attack, the bloodshed and deaths barely interrupted planning to subvert the next election.
Election theft schemes by Trump Republicans continue, and by 2024, they may be well-positioned to succeed.
In 10 states, the 2022 Republican nominees vying to become chief election officials have continued to question the 2020 presidential election results. They seek not only to beat Democratic nominees but ousted principled Republicans who properly fulfilled their duties in 2020. Additionally, sitting officials who attempted to overturn election results in 2020 are refining their tactics.
Axios recently uncovered well-developed plans by Trump allies to replace thousands of federal civil servants, who lawfully are protected from political pressure or firings, with loyalists to entrench one-party rule.
The planned purge includes the Justice Department, State Department, and Pentagon, all of which played a role in preventing the 2020 coup attempt when key personnel obeyed their oaths of office rather than following Trump’s requests. Threats to the survival of democracy have only grown since the insurrection.
We’ll let others propose criminal punishments for those who plotted the January 6 attacks. But to protect democracy, those who helped incite the deadly attack or advanced lies about election theft even after the carnage--should face formal consequences, which could include expulsion from office and being barred from any future federal position.
The moment calls for all Unitarian Universalists to lend our voices to ensure the January 6 investigations spark action to pull us back from the brink of democratic collapse. As long as the most powerful can commit crimes without consequence, justice is unattainable and democracy is imperiled.