Why Republicans Should Oppose a January 6 Commission in the Senate

Last Wednesday, the House voted to pass legislation establishing a bipartisan commission to investigate the events of January 6 which some have hyperbolically referred to as an insurrection and compared to 9/11 or Pearl Harbor or the Civil War in importance.  The bill passed by a vote of 252 to 175 with 35 Republicans crossing the aisle to join their Democratic colleagues in the vote. 

The Republicans who opposed the bill did so out of objections to the proposed structure and scope of the panel. 

The bill now moves on to the Senate where its chances of survival are grim.  Already the Republican Leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, has voiced his opposition to the bill.  While there are some Republicans who will likely break ranks (Mitt Romney and Lisa Murkowski come to mind), it is unlikely that enough of them will do so to help this bill across the finish line.

Senate rules, as they currently stand, require 60 votes for the chamber to move forward on this type of legislation.  With the Senate being evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, 10 Republican Senators would have to cast their lot with the Democrats in order to pass the bill.

While Republican law makers have advanced policy reasons for their opposition, the fact is their misgivings more likely come from a place of politics.  Their position is being taken with an eye on the next election. There are some who have characterized this proposed commission as nothing more than a tool by which Democrats could smear their political opponents for the next two years in the run up to the mid-term elections, which are not expected to go in their favor.  The theory holds that in this way, Democrats could mitigate or even eliminate all together the losses they are expected to incur.  This assessment may very well be accurate in as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. 

The fact is, in addition resisting this Democrat attempt at gaining another tool for their political arsenal, there are several other compelling reasons that Republicans should shut this proposed commission down in the Senate as soon as they can.   

The first of these reasons is that the investigation Democrats are proposing has already taken place.  When was that?  Well, almost immediately after the events themselves.

Let’s go back to that day, January 6, and relive what happened.  The U.S. Congress got together to perform its Constitutional duty of certifying the electoral college vote that would put Joe Biden in the Oval Office.  As they did so, they were interrupted by a group of idiots who stormed the Capitol building.  Then, once they were inside, they wandered around taking selfies.  Meanwhile, the members of Congress were evacuated.

The day passed, the building was cleared, Congress reassembled and finished its work, and by the end of the day Democrats were already calling for Donald Trump to be impeached a second time.  The charges?  Incitement of insurrection.

It seemed like an open and shut case.  After all, he had been claiming for almost two months that the election of Biden was due to voter fraud, that the election had been stolen.  Some of his voters and followers took these claims to heart and showed up to protest as the vote was being counted.  Then, as the Congress performed its duty, Trump gave a speech reiterating his belief in voter fraud and urging his supporters to protest.  Then the “insurrection” came.

The evidence against Trump was so overwhelming, so obvious, and so compelling that the House of Representatives was able to vote to impeach him a second time a mere one week after these events, January 13.  Following this, the Senate was able to conduct its trial and hold its vote all within a month with the final acquittal coming on February 13. 

So why now do we need yet another commission?  This information has been at hand for five long months.  The House and the Senate were both able to receive this information, deliberate on it, consider it, and act or not act on it as they saw fit. The evidence and information at hand in mid-January was enough to impeach a President for only the fourth time in this nation’s history.

We can only come to two conclusions from this line of thinking.  Either we had all of the information months ago during the impeachment which makes this current push for a commission all political theater, or we still, several months later, don’t have all of the information regarding January 6. This would mean that the impeachment and trial were conducted without adequate information and were thus political theater.

A second reason Republicans in the Senate should oppose this proposed commission is that actions of this sort, taken in the wake of shocking events, have been used in the past to infringe on the constitutional freedoms of the American people.

I would refer you to the infamous Patriot Act which was passed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks and was for many years thereafter the source of much frustration to Constitutionalists on both sides of the aisle.  At various times, the Patriot Act has been cited as violating at least six of the original amendments known as the Bill of Rights; the first, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eight.  This information can be found here.

The most often offended right concerned privacy and the right of the people to be secure from unreasonable searches and seizures.  Additionally, this act has been cited as violating religious freedoms through profiling.

Could this January 6 commission come up with other such infringements on individual liberty?  Yes.  But which ones, and how?

Where to begin?  Already there have been fierce battles and angry arguments around the role that social media played in the January 6 incursions into the Capitol.  Additionally, politicians on both sides have been jockeying for some sort of crack down on big tech and big social media platforms.  Could this proposed commission come up with recommendations that serve as the impetus for these politicians to finally follow through on their oft repeated threat?  It’s certainly within the realm of possibility.

What else could go wrong?  Well, a term that has been thrown around a lot in regard to January 6 is White Supremacy.  It is assumed by those on the left that everyone who supported and voted for Donald Trump was, in some way, a White supremacist.  This term has been linked by those on the left with modern day American evangelicalism and is currently in the process of being repeated so often that it is just assumed to be true.

Now, if you’ll indulge me, I’ll tell you a little bit about my background so you can understand where I’m coming from and that I have a little bit of expertise in this area.  I’m 40 years old.  My entire life I have attended evangelical churches.  I attended an Evangelical Christian university and am currently studying for a master’s degree at another Evangelical Christian university.  I have attended numerous Evangelical conferences, lectures, get togethers, retreats, and other events.  I follow many evangelical leaders on social media and have read many of their books.  I tell you all of this so you can understand that I’m as thoroughly Evangelical and as familiar with the national Evangelical scene as it is possible to be.  In all of that time and with all of that experience I can only count on one hand the number of genuine white supremacists I have met.  The simple fact is the Evangelical Church in America today is not a hot bed of racism as the left is attempting to portray it to be.

Could those attempts at mischaracterization make it into the conclusions of a January 6 commission though?  If Democrats have anything to do with it, I would say that it’s not only possible, it’s likely.

One of the most important lessons of the book 1984 by George Orwell is that language is of central importance to human thought because it directs and limits the ideas people are capable of. Democrats sitting on a January 6 commission would undoubtedly attempt to use that position to paint their political opponents with the racist brush they’re so fond of using. They’ve already been doing it. Republicans ought not empower their attempts with such a commission.

I can hear some shouting at their computer screen now.  The previous point I made is a logical fallacy, it’s a slippery slope.  The existence of a January 6 commission will not automatically translate to government incursions into the private sector nor will it automatically mean labelling all evangelicals as racist.

Maybe you’re right.  I hope you’re right.  But this isn’t a slippery slope fallacy.  It’s a prediction informed by accurate observations about how these things generally go.  How does that old phrase go?  Never let a crisis go to waste.

A third reason Republicans should oppose any January 6 commission is that its existence would distract from the massive incompetence we’re currently seeing from the Biden administration.  Seriously, the affairs of this country are presently being handled by an administration with a collective stupidity so intense that it could be weaponized and sold to their buddies in Iran as a substitute for the nuclear weapons that John Kerry is helping them develop.  And this conga line of ineptitude is being led by a man who doesn’t know where he is half the time.

And their inability to manage the affairs of the country is showing through in o-so-many ways.  We are seeing energy shortages which are translating to higher prices at the pump.  We are seeing the highest inflation rates in a generation.  What was a stable middle-east is now a powder keg waiting for an idiot with a match to come along.  We are experiencing a humanitarian crisis at our southern border.  And somehow, in some weird way that defies all logic, we are experience both high unemployment and a labor shortage at the same time!  In theory, these two problems should not be able to co-exist.  It should be impossible.  But President Mumbles has pulled it off.

All of these are problems that should be in the news and discussed by all concerned Americans.  Liberal media outlets have tried their best not to report on these things and keep them silent, but news has still seeped out through some of the more independent media and through people’s noticing that prices are spiking everywhere they turn.  Since their media compatriots can’t keep these problems silent, the solution is to instead find a bigger story that will draw attention away from these issues.  Could that be the Democrat intent all along with this commission?

The fourth reason Republicans should oppose this commission in the Senate is simply that Democrats cannot be counted on to conduct themselves in an adult manner during any such activity.  While Donald Trump has been accused of immature behavior a lot over the last four years, the fact is he had nothing on the Democrats in Congress.  They were more than happy to not only reciprocate his immaturity, but also to kick it up to the next level any chance they got.

Who can forget Jerry Nadler almost falling asleep during committee meetings and only waking up long enough to deny Bill Barr a bathroom break?  Who can forget the other Democrats on that committee joining the queue for their chance to bully him and deny him a chance to answer questions? Who can forget the antics of the squad to insert themselves into every story in the news every day and their over the top rhetoric time and time again?

Of course, the crown jewel of the Democrats adolescent behavior came during the Kavanaugh hearings when Democrats continued to march out into the open one obviously false allegation of sexual assault after another after another against the would be justice.  The most laughably ridiculous of the group was Cory Booker with his “I am Spartacus” moment and then Senator Kamala Harris who led a Democrat walk out of the hearings and later, in an ultimate insult to our intelligence, tried to convince us that it was totally spontaneous (sure it was Kamala, sure it was).

The credibility of the U.S. Congress was already on the ropes at the beginning of the Trump Presidency and Democrat behavior over that time period only exacerbated the already low regard in which America held them.  By denying Democrats the ability to repeat their theatrics, the Republicans would be doing the whole country a favor.

I can’t think of a serious person who wasn’t rightfully disgusted by the events of January 6.  But a Congressional commission, at this point, would be redundant and ineffective toward its stated purpose.  It would not reveal any new information or change anyone’s mind.  It would only allow for politicians to strut in front of the camera and distract from more important issues.  Even worse, it would probably lead to a list of excuses for Congress pass laws limiting social media and labelling their political opponents as racist.

The better path forward would be to simply ask the FBI to present a comprehensive report of their findings since they have been actively involved in investigating the matter for several months now.  I know, I know; an investigation by the nation’s premier law enforcement body may not be the a-political solution some people want.  But it certainly can’t be worse than a commission made up of politicians who have no expertise in anything and each of whom will only be fishing for a soundbite for their next campaign.

You can follow Tom on Twitter (@SearlTom)

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