As Trump’s Big Lie festers among the Republican Party and political norms continue to erode, we at The New Republic are pretty concerned about the future of small “d” democracy, both in the U.S. and abroad. So we’ve started a series we’ve termed Democracy Watch, wherein we will regularly survey experts, writers, and generally interesting thinkers on a specific question about the state of democracy and what keeps them up at night.
This month’s question: As it wraps up its work, what outcome do you hope Congress’s January 6 committee produces?
Harvard Law School
I hope the J6 commission produces a definitive historical account of the whole plot to overturn a free and fair presidential election leading to and including the violent insurrection, lays out the evidence showing exactly who was responsible, diagnoses the weaknesses in our legal and political structures that made the attempt nearly successful, identifies the ongoing efforts to launch an even deadlier assault on the system for peaceful transitions every four years, and makes concrete proposals for shoring up that system going forward.
Accountability for Trump and his acolytes, plus a clear, coherent, and concise description for the American public of how close we came to losing our democracy, and embracing full-blown fascism, on Wednesday 6th January 2021.
President of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
I hope the January 6 Committee continues to investigate and to release eye-opening evidence as long as possible. I hope the Committee unanimously makes a criminal referral of Donald Trump and other top advisors to the Department of Justice. Most importantly, I hope they comprehensively present the case to the American people that the attempt to overturn the 2020 election was an attack on America that must never be allowed to happen again.
Senior fellow at The Brookings Institution
I’ll be watching to see if they attend to their last major piece of unfinished business: establishing that the attempted coup they have documented never ended, simply evolved—and is now targeting our elections and our democracy. It consists of the Trump-led election denier movement that is seeking electoral office to do in the future what failed in 2020: elevate Trump or other GOP candidates whether they actually win or not. The Committee needs to lay out a roadmap of the evidence against Trump and others for prosecutors, civil litigants, and regulators such as state bars. Whether they make formal referrals matters less than presenting the relevant evidence in detailed form—a twenty-first century version of the Watergate Road Map.