Pick a pet progressive issue: the environment, indigenous rights, tax reform, welfare reform, police reform, prison reform, health care, student debt, LGBT rights, etc.
It doesn’t matter.
At least, it doesn’t matter in comparison to the imperative to hold those who instigated the coup attempt of January 6th accountable.
That the rubes who fell for the instigation are getting prosecuted is irrelevant. There is a near-endless supply of such rubes. More can easily be found, and when the second coup attempt succeeds, the initial batch of rubes can easily be pardoned by His Excellency, President-for-Life Donald Trump.
Make no mistake, there are only two options for the sort of thing that happened on the 6th: hold those responsible accountable, or set a precedent that such a coup is a valid tactic to use as a means of pursuing political power. If those who instigated the coup are not held accountable, there is a lesson in it: it almost worked, and it had no real adverse consequences. Try again, and try harder. It will probably work the next time.
People who instigate un-democratic coups d’etat are people who believe in ruling by force. Force is what they understand. Asking them to be nice and not do it the next time is both pointless and laughably naïve. There must be consequences. Any political order that fails to act in its basic self-preservation is an order that is doomed to fail, and to fail relatively soon.
The United States has already demonstrated itself to be astoundingly weak and timid compared to the Weimar Republic, and the latter is widely faulted for taking the threat posed by the Nazis insufficiently seriously. Within two days of the Beer Hall Putsch — an insurrection in a provincial capital distant from Berlin — the top instigators had been arrested and were facing treason charges. Four months on, and the American Republic has yet to so much lift a pinky finger in any effort to hold the instigators of our coup attempt — one that happened in our national Capitol building — responsible.
The clock is ticking, and time is running out.
If the fascists win — and they are fascists — there will be nothing but bad news for the environment. There will be nothing but bad news for indigenous people, or people of color. There will be nothing but bad news for economic inequality. There will be nothing but bad news for health care. There will be nothing but bad news for LGBT rights.
There will be nothing but bad news and there will be no hope of there being good news for decades. It took Spain nearly forty years to recover the democracy that Franco destroyed. It took Portugal nearly fifty years to recover from the Estado Novo of Salazar and Caetano.
Accountability is key. There is nothing the Democrats could possibly do that is even one-tenth as important as to pursue accountability. If the Senate blocks the formation of a independent commission, the House must create a select committee and investigate it via that means.
Less dramatically, but no less critically, accountability is key for the other crimes of the Trump Regime as well. The illegal misappropriation of funds for the border wall, hiring of unqualified family members, treasonous collusion with hostile foreign powers, corrupt business practices: all must be vigorously investigated, prosecuted, and punished. None must be spared from accountability simply because they are wealthy or powerful.
After all, Trump himself is no aberration. Trump is merely the logical consequence of a more general failure to hold the most powerful accountable. I knew that someone like Trump was coming the moment it became clear to me that the Obama Administration was not going to punish the war crimes of the George W. Bush administration.
If the Democrats fail to pursue accountability, their craven fecklessness will ensure they go down in history as being co-responsible for the inevitable consequences.