Credit: Steve Sack, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, MN

The Senate Republicans filibustered the bipartisan January 6 Commission bill because: “Anything that gets us rehashing the 2020 election … is a day lost on being able to draw contrast between us and the Democrats’ very left-wing agenda,” said Senate Minority Whip John Thune. In other words, it would hurt Republican electoral 2022 prospects. If there was ever evidence of the need for filibuster reform, this is it!

We have never in our history seen anything like the January 6 storming of the Capitol. It was an insurrection orchestrated by a sitting President attempting to use a violent mob of his supporters to stop the constitutionally mandated certification of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) and John Katko (R-N.Y.) reached bipartisan agreement, in the House, on the creation of a Commission to investigate the causes of the insurrection. While the bill passed the House with only 35 Republican votes, it was an act of sanity; in the increasingly insane political atmosphere of 2021 only six Republicans voted for the bill; it would have taken 60 votes to overcome the filibuster.

The bill, which the Republicans filibustered, would have created a 9/11 type independent commission to study the “facts and causes” of the attack, “as well as the influencing factors that may have provoked the attack on our democracy.” The commission would have been made up of an equal number of Democrats and Republicans; only issue subpoenas if both the chair and vice chair agree, or allowed by a majority of commission members; and would sunset at the end of this year. Sounds right? What could be more important than understanding why and how our democracy was attacked? Not so in modern day Republican politics.

What voters need to understand is that this filibuster, along with looking for Bamboo Ballots, in Arizona, deposing Liz Cheney from leadership, and the Marjorie Taylor Green and Matt Gaetz roadshow are all part of a Republican ad campaign aimed at their electoral base. Advertising’s function is to create images and fear which promote the sale of products, services, and political positions; irrespective of the truth. Think about the pharmaceutical commercials which present beautiful images of happy people followed by disclaimers telling us that the drug can cause any number of awful side effects including death. Politics, in this age of media and social media “sound bites”, has become that without the disclaimers.

The disclaimers which should accompany this Republican advertising campaign should include: January 6 was an insurrection aimed at overturning a democratic election; Republican members who supported and have information about the insurrection could have been subpoenaed (including Kevin McCarthy), and the Commission’s findings would have alienated both the GOP base which supports the attack, and ex-President Trump.

This campaign is being launched in the midst of Republican members of Congress telling us: January 6 was not an insurrection just “a normal tourist visit”; Trump called out the National Guard immediately after the rioting started; and, it was Antifa not Trump supporters involved in the insurrection. None of this is true. It’s advertising a brand: Trumpism.

Donald Trump’s “the election was stolen from me” Big Lie is a classic form of advertising, which has taken root in our society. It caused the January 6 insurrection, and is manifesting in anti-democratic politics in Republican controlled states which includes: voter suppression laws; and fake audits of only presidential ballots, and filibusters.

Advertising assumes that with enough repetition what it is “selling” will be accepted as reality by its intended audience. This is what the current Republican ad campaign is counting on. We not only have to prove them wrong by looking at what’s behind their advertising, we have to convert that knowledge into political activity; which in this instance means filibuster reform. If not, we are at risk of losing American Democracy.


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