‘Detached from reality’: More than just Trump

York Dispatch editorial board
A video of former President Donald Trump is displayed on a screen during a House Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 hearing in the Cannon House Office Building on Monday, June 13, 2022, in Washington, D.C. The bipartisan Select Committee to Investigate the Jan. 6 Attack On the United States Capitol has spent nearly a year conducting more than 1,000 interviews, reviewed more than 140,000 documents day of the attack. (Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

“Fox News is televising the hearing today,” read a social media post Monday lamenting the network’s decision to broadcast the second public hearing of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the Capitol. “Guess I’ll watch a movie.”

It’s this refusal to confront, let alone consider, the facts surrounding the events of Jan. 6 that have allowed former President Donald Trump, scores of would-be office-holders, and the vast majority of the Republican Party to profit from the absurd fantasy that widespread voter fraud cost Trump reelection.

Because the facts, as they are being laid out by the bipartisan committee, are irrefutable.

There was never any outside meddling with voting machines, “illegal” votes or fraud of any kind (ironic notable exception: former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows).

There was, pure and simple, Donald Trump on the losing end of the tally. By a lot.

But the sorest of losers has refused to acknowledge this reality and, as in so many other areas, his supporters and acolytes have blindly followed his lead.

They sent hundreds of millions of dollars to a so-called “Election Defense Fund” that evidently didn’t exist. They poured into Washington, D.C., on Jan. 6 to violently disrupt Congress’s formal count of states’ electoral ballots. They have used recent primaries to elect more than 100 Republican candidates who parrot stolen-election falsehoods (including Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Doug Mastriano).

It’s a rebellion against reality and it includes ignoring or discounting the evidence being presented in the ongoing House committee hearings. 

It has to; that evidence is simply too compelling.

The committee has factually and forcefully outlined the many ways Trump sought to overturn a free and fair election: Pressuring state leaders to “find” additional votes; pursuing outlandish ideas by questionable allies like DOJ official Jeffrey Clark (convince states to send “alternate” electors) or an allegedly drunken Rudy Giuliani (simply declare victory); demanding Vice President Mike Pence use his ceremonial role overseeing Congress’s formal certification to reject ballots from states Trump lost; urging rabid supporters (infiltrated by members of radical groups like the Proud Boys) to march on the Capitol and disrupt that certification.

The narrative is supported and magnified, in large part, by testimony from high-ranking members of Trump’s administration, campaign and inner circle.

Trump spokesman Jason Miller, campaign manager Bill Stepien, campaign lawyer Alex Cannon, daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump — all were shown in videotaped testimony confirming that Trump clearly lost.

Former attorney general William Barr literally called “B.S.” on Trump’s claims of election fraud. “Detached from reality,” was how he described the former president’s embrace of voter-fraud conspiracies.

Trump may or may not believe his own lies but a widespread GOP detachment from reality continues to hold real and potentially dangerous consequences for the republic.

The House committee is reminding America through the ongoing hearings just how close it came to seeing its democratic experiment fail in the months after the 2020 presidential election. And it is taking great pains to stress that the threat is ongoing.

“Voter integrity” has been the excuse for scores of new GOP-led voting restrictions across the country. And those “Big Lie”-backing GOP candidates are making no secret of their intentions to further dilute the elections process should they take control this fall.

The Jan. 6 riot was a Hail Mary in an ongoing, orchestrated effort to overturn a presidential election. It fell short, but America may not be so lucky next time.

Those who continue to downplay or dismiss the events of, leading up to, and since Jan. 6, 2021, are being either willfully obstinate or woefully misled. They are also enabling craven, democracy-dismissing politicians and power-brokers to dismantle the very levers of representative government.

Whether they like it or not; whether they acknowledge it or not; that is the reality.