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Tuesday was a day of jolting contrast: with democracy on full display in the 2022 Colorado Primary, this was juxtaposed against shocking revelations from the January 6 Congressional Investigative Committee that revealed just how close we came to losing this democracy.

Some Colorado Republicans Found a Red Line, Others Have Not

On the one hand, there was good news for truth in the state results of the 2022 Colorado Primary, where it seems a red line appeared. The votes showed a division between those Republican candidates who believe the 2020 presidential election was stolen from former President Donald Trump and who are campaigning on this lie, and those who state that President Joe Biden “legitimately won the election — so move on, already”.

Dist. 60 Representative Ron Hanks, who just lost the GOP primary to run against U.S. Senator Michael Bennet in November,  attended the Jan. 6 Trump events in D.C. prior to being sworn in. While he initially said he did not go to the U.S. Capitol, several days later he changed his story. Image courtesy of Hanks’ website.

For many of the most concerning races at the state level, it would appear that moderate Republicans gained their party’s candidate spots. But the moderation appears to have occurred more in the urban areas. For some in rural counties, Chaffee County included, a perverse right-wing streak prevails, where the candidates with the more extreme viewpoints (and those perpetuating the big lie about the 2020 election)  got the most votes.

What does this mean? Whether in Chaffee, Rio Blanco, Custer, Weld, or Archuleta counties, those Republicans who are beginning to hoist Trump 2024 banners that proclaim their intention to “Take America Back” are letting the rest of us know that they have not gone away.

This past week, driving back across the plains from a family reunion in the Northwoods of Wisconsin where I grew up, I was struck by those signs all along our travels. The signs were on the lawns of well-cared-for farms and fields that didn’t look as though they had been suffering. What do these fellow Americans want that they don’t have, I pondered?

Well, they seem to want the world the way it was “before”; when men were men and women were — ?. They also want respect — and they want it now, which translated might mean they are used to the white male control structure propagated now by the white power movement — and darned if they are going to share it with the rest of us, except to tell us what-for.

Yes, fellow Americans, the world is changing. It has always changed. Get used to it. Even in the 1950s, it changed. My mom finally got a “modern” Frigidaire refrigerator and they bought their first TV. The phone came off the wall and onto a phone table in the dining room. Girls took to wearing bikinis, and with the cold war on, kids learned to shelter under their desks during bomb drills. The population began to move toward the suburbs and we have been reminded – repeatedly — that this is a country of immigrants. We didn’t get that reputation for no reason.

The Day Democracy Almost Slipped Sideways

Then there is Tuesday’s news from the Congressional Investigative Committee that provided key pieces of evidence connecting Trump to an attempted coup after the 2020 election. Testifying was Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide for Donald Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, whose proximity to the Oval Office was a five-second walk.

Because she had no role in the coup, her testimony was both credible and her detailed accounts shocking.

Cassie Hutchinson, twenty-five-year-old aide to former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified on Tuesday before the Jan. 6 Committee. Photo courtesy of the Washington Post.

What she revealed was terrifying in its starkness and clarity, taking us much further along the path asked in recent weeks by Ark Valley Voice as “what did he (Trump) know, and when did he know it?”

It now appears Trump knew exactly what he was doing; with several arms of an organized coup-d’état attempt, he expected violence, and he counted on his supporters to keep him in power by force.

The conspiracy involved the White House, Trump’s connections, members of the U.S. Congress and Senate, connections across battleground states, and violent militia groups.

We learned that from the beginning, Trump was told that there was a high possibility of violence on Jan. 6. Now we know that he didn’t just anticipate violence, he encouraged it.

His key aides and friends, with the knowledge of his Chief of Staff, were plotting the action in a war room in the Willard Hotel across Lafayette Park from the White House. The plot included the Proud Boys and Oath Keepers who led the way in the storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Hutchinson heard Trump respond angrily when told that the mob assembled for his speech on the Ellipse was armed and the Secret Service said that those who wouldn’t relinquish their weapons had to stay outside. He didn’t care that they were armed. He was furious with the Secret Service for keeping metal detectors (“mags”)  in place to stop people from entering with weapons.

“I’m the f—ing president and I say let them in,” said Trump repeatedly. “I don’t f—ing care if they have weapons, let them in. Get rid of the f—ing Mags and let the people in.”

But while he ranted, the Secret Service and Washington D.C. police were reporting people armed with AR-15s, spears, flag poles filled with cement, stun guns, knives, bear spray, pistols, rifles, batons, bats — anything that could cause harm. The president and his chief of staff were told and did nothing.

According to Trump,  nothing should be done with them, they should be allowed into the secured areas because “They’re not here to hurt me. Let my people in.”  And from that rally, he pointed that mob at the Capitol.

If not there to hurt him — then who were they there to hurt?

Former President Trump announced to the crowd that he was going to the Capitol with them, that he would lead them. Apparently, he envisioned his arrival at the Capitol as a sort of modern-day Mussolini fascist dictator, or the arrival of Roman dictator Nero to the Roman Senate.

According to Hutchinson’s account, the president was not just furious when he was told by the Secret Service that they did not have the manpower to take him there and it was not safe, he attempted to lunge toward the steering wheel and then grabbed toward Secret Service Agent Bobby Engel’s throat. Back at the White House he isolated himself and threw plates and food at the wall of the Oval Office Dining Room.

When told that the crowd attacking the Capitol Building was chanting ‘Hang Mike Pence” he is reported to have told Meadows that Vice President Pence “deserves to hang”. Not only did he know the VP was in danger, he sent a text that it is now revealed made the crowd surge forward.

For 187 minutes while the Capitol Police were engaged in what they described as “medical hand-to-hand combat”, the former president did nothing to stop the attack. It could be asked, “Why?” But the answer is fairly obvious — he wanted the violence to continue so he could stay in power.

As if that isn’t enough, near the end of the stunning nearly two-hour hearing on Tuesday, the public learned that witnesses (including we learned later Cassidy Hutchinson herself)  had been contacted by Trump allies (in Hutchinson’s case her former boss Mark Meadows) in a manner that could only be described as old-fashioned witness tampering.

What next? Well, the Jan. 6 Congressional Investigation is not a court — it is designed to investigate and report back to the American people.

Criminal charges would lie with the United States Department of Justice, which has already announced that it is carefully watching these proceedings and wants the interview transcripts from the 1,000 or so interviews conducted by the Jan. 6 Committee. The evidence appears to suggest several criminal charges including conspiracy, seditious conspiracy, obstruction of a government proceeding, inciting a riot, and witness tampering.

Perhaps what we Americans need to recognize most of all is what this was and is, this was not just an attack on our Capitol and our elected officials, bad as that was. This was an attack on democracy itself.

While the wishful among us might be content to consider this in the past — the 2024 “Take America Back” lawn signs are fair warning. This is not over — this appears to be a continuing attack on democracy. I do not raise that alarm as a Democrat or a Republican– but as an American.

Editor’s Note: Our Voice is the Editorial section of Ark Valley Voice. Although this is based on the facts of the 2022 Colorado primary election and the Jan. 6 Congressional Committee Investigation it is an opinion and not intended as a news story.