On January 5 and 6, democracy won, fascism lost

The United States of America was redefined on January 5 and 6, 2021. Never underestimate the pivotal power of these two dates in our nation’s history. And do not believe that a Senate failure to convict Donald Trump will change any of it.

On January 5, the voters of Georgia chose a black preacher and a Jewish filmmaker to successfully flip the empowered majority of the United States Senate. No one died. But the vote merged an epic demographic shift with a massive grassroots election protection movement to remake our nation.

The next day, Donald Trump incited an armed, violent mob to invade the US Capitol and kill his Republican Vice President, Mike Pence, before Pence could certify the nation’s choice for a new president. Five people died. The mission failed.

And it left intact nationwide what we had won in Georgia the day before … a demographically remade America, the real enemy of the Trump mob.

Since the 1600s, Georgia and the slave south have been defined by violent White Supremacy. Today that history is commemorated in a bitterly contested giant carving at Stone Mountain, where the Ku Klux Klan was reborn in 1915—right after a bigoted mob infamously lynched a young Jew named Leo Frank on false charges of rape.

That the Peach State would someday simultaneously elect a black guy and a Jewish guy to the US Senate would seem insane—until now.

For decades the legacy of the Atlanta-born Martin Luther King has chipped away at that foul mountain of bigotry and violence. It reached a new plateau in 2018, when Stacey Abrams rightfully won the governorship of Georgia. As she was poised to become America’s first female African-American governor, the victory was stolen by a Klan-supported secretary of state who ran his own fraudulent election.

But with national notoriety and support, Abrams has helped remake Georgia’s electoral landscape. In concert with superb grassroots organizers like Andrea Miller of People Demanding Action and Ray McClendon of the Atlanta NAACP, the election protection movement guaranteed young, black, Hispanic, Asian-American, and indigenous citizens what was once unthinkable—the right to vote with paper ballots that were actually counted. It is no accident that the black senator elected in January was pastor at Dr. King’s Atlanta church.

In November 2020, the King-Warnock “dream” was foretold nationwide. In the decisive states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona, Millennials/Zoomers of youth and color hugely rejected Trump’s racist bigotry, costing him the election.

From immigration to segregation, evangelicalism to outright fascism, Trump’s appeal has always been to White Supremacists living in terror of America’s changing demographic.

Where once the most downtrodden white man could consider himself superior to anyone darker, now multiracial citizens of the “lower caste” actually cast hand-marked paper ballots and got them counted.

In Charlottesville and elsewhere, Trump’s neo-Nazi mobs chanted “Jews will not replace us.” But it’s America’s larger diversity they fear. When they chant “Stop the Steal,” they refer not just to Trump’s 2020 defeat, but to the sense that “their” nation is no longer dominated by white “Christian” males. “This is our country,” says Trump. “They are trying to take it from us.”

Thus the January 6 assault on the Capitol was much bigger than it seemed. The punditocracy mostly compares it to 1814, when the British burned the Capitol, the White House, and the Library of Congress, forcing President James Madison to flee. (His vice president was Elbridge Gerry, the godfather of gerrymandering).

In fact, it was more like North Carolina’s infamous 1898 coup, when Wilmington’s multiracial Reconstruction regime was a rainbow alliance of liberal whites with freed slaves who still retained the right to vote. When the Jim Crow fascists did their Trump thing, they murdered some 300 black citizens and retook power.

That’s what Trump’s thugs really wanted on January 6. Had they got their hands on Georgia’s new black and Jewish senators, they would’ve lynched them. Had they found Nancy Pelosi, AOC, or Bernie Sanders, they’d have ripped them to pieces.

But they didn’t. They killed a cop and wounded 140 more. But the center held, and the hall was filled with cameras. The function of last week’s Senate trial has been to show those pictures to the world.

We all know if that mob had been black, every one of them would have been gunned down on the spot.

We also know that in all his years of marching, no protest led by Dr. King ever devolved into anything resembling the vicious violence incited by Donald Trump. And unlike Trump, King personally marched with those he inspired. Such realities do matter, both to a contemporary populace … and to history.

America’s demographic is now relentlessly slipping away from the vile racist core that puked up Donald Trump. The Senate did not convict him. But as a private citizen, he may well be indicted in places like New York and DC, and sued by endless angry creditors everywhere.

Maybe not this week … but someday … we can dream of a broke Donald Trump in an orange jumpsuit, unable to find legal representation, perp walking to a state or local prison,

More importantly, gerrymandered Republican legislatures are desperately assaulting the fair election practices that doomed the Trump regime and can protect us from future fascism. They’re slashing at vote-by-mail, drop boxes, paper ballots, local precincts, automatic registration, and all the other democratic reforms that made a fair 2020 election possible.

The grassroots election protection movement that won these reforms now must rally to protect them. The federal House Rule One does promise some positive changes. But it’s at the state and local levels that hand-marked paper ballots must be enhanced, and gerrymandering defeated.

And it’s everywhere that we must guard against more fascist outbursts.

On January 6, we saw the angry tip of an obsolete demographic iceberg gracelessly melting into a diverse sea. Its ultimate disappearance can only be guaranteed with free and fair elections.

On January 5, we showed how that can be done, even in Georgia.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work.

Harvey Wasserman co-convenes the weekly Election Protection 2024 ZOOM. His People’s Spiral of US History is at www.solartopia.org.

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