Countrywide PTO right now.
Every citizen should be watching the Jan 6 hearings in real-time.
It’s a fantasy, of course. A fantasy coming unexpectedly from someone who has spent much of her life trash-talking the federal legislature for being, oh, I don’t know, laughably patriarchal, reflexively war-mongering, inherently racist and classist, perennially out-of-touch with the desires and needs of its least powerful citizens, increasingly captured by dark-money kleptocrats, and so on. A cynic who thinks she has no expectations left for this nation as it races toward fascism.
Apparently, such a someone can still dream.
We should be getting a half-day off for every one of the in-progress congressional hearings on the failed Jan 6 coup attempt. High school students should be gathered in auditoriums, equipped with relevant rubric questions. Their history teachers should be on standby for color commentary. Every sports arena and movie theater in the country should queue up the event on every screen and Jumbotron, then fling open their doors to members of the general public: corporate HR managers, fast-food slingers, nurses, accountants, nannies, architects, plumbers, all of whom have been granted PTO hours by their employers.
This arguably most important political event of our lifetimes should not be viewed primarily by elder folk, shut-ins, and self-employed news junkies, or seen only afterward in chopped-up, filtered form on the evening broadcast or cable news. Something like 20 million people watched the first hearing on Friday morning, June 9, as it was happening. That’s about 100 million fewer than watched the last Super Bowl, 140 million fewer than voted in the last presidential election, and 240 million fewer than are eligible to vote.
As if these stats aren’t depressing enough, some asshole calling himself “Morning Joe” on MSNBC—oh, I know who he is; it’s just that I don’t have cable and sometimes like to burnish my 24hr-news-cycle refusenik cred—Joe Scarborough apparently boasted on his show that 20 million viewers were far more than the number of viewers who watched “The Apprentice.” Because that’s highly relevant. After all, the Trump administration already proved, by its very existence, that there’s no substantive difference between the careful, deliberative processes of our democratic system coming to terms with a violent insurrection attempt and a fake-reality TV show last broadcast in 2017.
People need to be watching these hearings in real-time and becoming horrified as the story unfolds.
Those of us who’ve heard Trump loud and clear every time he hinted or outright promised to do exactly what he did,* those who knew or even merely suspected how much evidence there would be, those who’ve been paying attention and waiting anxiously for this moment—we may still find ourselves horrified.
Those who’ve written off the events of that day as a minor protest or a tourist kind of thing, even those who barely remember the basic principles of their elementary school civics training, may also find themselves unexpectedly horrified.
The video footage is a nightmare. The testimony is unambiguous. The perpetrators damn themselves with their own words. Donald Trump and his loyalists deliberately fomented a coup attempt, despite a few insiders who attempted to stall or stop the wannabe President-For-Life from siccing his paramilitary attack dogs and inFoxinated weekend warriors on Congress.
The whole thing is riveting. But even if it were a little bit boring, a little bit longish or procedurally cautious, compared with the meaningless drama of “unscripted” television…so what? Do we want a functioning democracy or not?
The evident answer is Not all that much.
I tried to find (and couldn’t find) some comparative stats about how many people here and around the world viewed this hearing from last month about UAPs, unidentified aerial phenomena, or what we all used to call UFOs. It’s the first of its kind in 50 years. It was held because there’s a growing preponderance of evidence coming in from aircraft pilots about extremely strange and inexplicable things they’ve seen in the upper atmosphere.
At the moment, the prospect of alien aircraft from technically advanced civilizations visiting Earth seems far less frightening to me than the true stories being told in and about our nation’s capital.
Open your eyes, people.
*This exchange between writers Anand Giridharadas and Sarah Kendzior at The.Ink cogently summarizes the many ways in which our last White House resident was obviously authoritarian, fully corrupt, and still mostly unaccountable. “We were warned.”