The January 6, 2021 attack on the US Capitol must never be repeated. American democracy is totally dependent on the peaceful transfer of power and Congress must therefore have the ability to protect itself -- and the democratic process -- from those who seek to undermine our nation's form of government established by the Constitution. While America's Founders recognized the potential of a tyrannical executive who might one day seek to overthrow democracy, the January 6, 2021 attack is the first time in our nation's history where such fears were mournfully realized.
So why didn't the Capitol police defend Congress when they have a budget bigger than the City of Atlanta? Reporting of the Capitol attack shows that the FBI warned of a looming "war" at the Capitol leading up to the riot, where FBI Director Christopher Wrey testified before Congress on March 2, 2021 confirming that the FBI communicated the possibility for "war" to the Capitol police promptly and in multiple ways on January 5, 2021.
Reports further show that the Trump-aligned Acting Secretary of Defense, Christophe Miller, in a memo dated January 4, 2021, directed the DC National Guard to stand-down from defending the Capitol and imposed measures that left Congress defenseless. Further reporting shows that the Sergeants at Arms of the House and Senate -- responsible for directing the Capitol police -- failed Congress with an unacceptable delay in sending reinforcements to the Capitol. Simply put, the former President had allies in the military and in the Capitol police who served him instead of defending the Constitution, democracy, and the Capitol.
Investigations are underway and those who took part in the riot on January 6, 2021 will be prosecuted. More is needed. Never again can We the People allow a tyrannical executive to thwart the defensive decision-making process of Congress controlled by the Capitol police. It is now time for Congress to reform the Capitol police -- in order to defend democracy. Action to
defend or protect democracy; is that not the most important objective of Congress? America's Founders waged a Revolution for the purpose of establishing democracy, the only form of government that would "secure these rights," as the Declaration of Independence goes, "unalienable Rights," "Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness," of which humans, in being "created equal," are "endowed [with] by their Creator," where "Governments are instituted" for "these ends." Surely, if America's Founders fought a war to attain Independence to establish democracy, Congress must have the requisite power to preserve and protect our democracy or democratic republic.
As the US Supreme Court recognized many years ago, Congress "must have the power to protect the elections on which its existence depends from violence and corruption." Ex parte Yarbrough, 110 U.S. 651, 658 (1884). Defending democracy then is not limited to protecting our elections and the operations of government (the Capitol) from violence. Protecting the financial aspect of the voting process (campaign finance) from corruption is equally as important. For Democracy is threatened when either aspect of voting is insufficiently defended. When undue influence of campaign money leads to greater representation for those with the money -- literally the 1% of the 1% -- representation of We the People is undermined, democracy is deeply damaged if not transformed.
This problem of representation, skewed or flawed democracy, is precisely the issue which led many to support former President Trump back in 2016 with his calls to "drain the swamp." Some might say that it was President Obama's now seemingly deceitful calls for fundamental change, or the general failure of progressives to lead on the issue of redressing corruption - or defending democracy - which brought us Trump. As one expert on this subject puts it, "A democratic rejection of Trumpism this side of the future totalitarian calamity that it augurs was far from inevitable in the absence of effective progressive strategy to drain the corrupt plutocratic swamp from which the totalitarian masses and operatives emerge. The corrupt Democrats who created the opening for Trump show no signs of having learned the lesson that only progressives - who are far more unerringly opposed to the corrupt plutocracy which the corrupt Democrats serve - can defeat the phony-populist remedy of Trumpism." (Rob Hager, Strategy for Democracy).
The Democrats in Congress have now prioritized the highest task of defending democracy with their For the People Act, which was just passed by the House on March 3, 2021 as H.R. 1. The Senate is currently deliberating their version of the bill, S. 1.
While this legislation is intended to address many aspects of the voting process, having the best of intentions, Americans must be cautious of the bill. It must be asked whether the means of the bill's campaign finance provisions will achieve the most important end of protecting democracy. Firstly, while public funding of campaigns is admirable, something must initially be done about the case of Arizona Free Enterprise Club, otherwise the wealthy candidates, or those most dependent on 1% money, will always be advantaged.
The most concerning aspect of S. 1 is on page 13, where the bill specifically states that a Constitutional Amendment is necessary to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision. Congress has broad powers to regulate the electoral process (Art. I Sec. 4), a most critical power to guarantee the democratic or republican form of government the Constitution establishes (Art. IV, Sec. 4), and Congress has the power to regulate or restrict the Judiciary from entering certain legal realms (Art. III Sec. 2). Congress has never before used these great powers in conjunction to protect democracy. The Democrats in S. 1 have therefore capitulated or conceded that a Constitutional Amendment is necessary to correct the Supreme Court -- a Supreme Court which has violated the Separation of Powers doctrine by answering a political question and violated their oath of office to do equal right to the poor, by entering the realm of campaign finance (initially in the 1976 Buckley v. Valeo case). This is absolutely unacceptable and a dereliction of Congress's duty to defend democracy. The structure of the Constitution, the power of We the People through Congress to make Law - the most critical of which, to defend democracy - and where Law was never to be made by an unelected judiciary, demands that Congress restore its authority over the electoral process and utilize its powers to protect democracy which includes restricting the Court's from the realm of campaign finance.
Every American must ask why Congress does not use their powers. Every American must also ask why Congress has not enacted conflict of interest reform. This reform of sanctioning members for their official acts which are conflicted due to receipt of campaign money from special interests can be done in each house of Congress through rule-making, though legislation would be ideal in order to establish a commission to enforce the rule. (James Leas, All by itself Vermont can overcome Citizens United).
In closing, while the democrats may have the best of intentions with their For the People Act, a failure to enact an effective HR1/S1 anti-corruption law with such contents as discussed above will be to risk, if not guarantee, a return of Trumpism. It would be too little too late at a time when circumstances demand more than piecemeal and symbolic reforms.