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Unlock the Path: How the GOP’s Rewrite of Jan. 6 Led Trump to a Comeback

The attempted insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th sent shockwaves across the nation. The Capitol was stormed by a group of far-right extremists and other President Donald Trump supporters, suggesting an attempted coup d’état. In the wake of the event, political leaders and pundits quickly lined up on either side to debate the scope of the event and the political implications for the future of our government. One major impact of the Capitol insurrection has been a rewriting of the history of the event itself. In a strategic move, some politicians, especially Republicans, have reframed the event as an “anti-Democrat” protest and have sought to downplay the involvement of Trump supporters. This effort has been labeled by some as a “conspiracy clean-up” in order to shield the president and his allies from blame. This tactic has, in effect, helped to create an opening for the president to make a political comeback. On one hand, Republicans have emphasized the allegedly peaceful behavior of most demonstrators in order to paint the peaceful protestors in a positive light. They’ve described the small bands of extremists as non-Trump supporters in order to create distance from the president. On the other hand, Democrats have highlighted the attempts of some members of the crowd to enter the Capitol building and the fact that multiple individuals were arrested with firearms or explosives to emphasize the severity of the situation. Although the consequences of this “conspiracy clean-up” are still unclear, what is undeniable is that efforts to rewrite the history of the Capitol riot have laid the groundwork for President Trump’s potential return to the political arena. The erasure of far-right involvement is part of a strategic move to distance the president from the event – and by shifting the focus away from extremism, Republicans are helping to ensure a softer landing for the president. By burying the extremism that was part of the Capitol insurrection, the GOP has created an opening for the president to make a return. This sets a dangerous precedent which could have substantial long-term implications for the health of our democracy. It’s essential that we identify and hold accountable those responsible for the Capitol siege and recognize the severity of what occurred on January 6th. Hopefully, such an acknowledgement will ensure that an attack on the Capitol building – and similar attempts to rewrite history – never happen again.