The Politics of the Capitol Insurrection Are Spreading Across the Country

By the afternoon of the Capitol riot, there was a feeling that violent white American Trumpism had reached its peak. But the next morning, as Republican politicians and right-wing media outlets began rewriting history in real time — claiming that Antifa actually did it, they pretended the insurgents had merely taken self-guided tours of the building and “ Selfies” taken, portraying the white mobs as victims – it became clear that the act of rioting from the previous day had not been the final spasm of white racist anti-democracy, but the harbinger of white racist anti-democracy to come. And those who support and condone it seek to lend a veneer of seriousness to the insurgency’s anti-democratic violence by cloaking it in the language of electoral integrity.

In the year since the Capitol Siege, Republican lawmakers have continued their assault on democracy, not by condoning violent public rampages but by codifying undemocratic laws. GOP lawmakers passed 34 bills suppressing voting in 19 states; engaged in extreme gerrymandering to ensure the maintenance of conservative white political power; killed federal voting rights laws – with the help of Democrats Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin, staunch supporters of a filibuster consistently used against multiracial democracy; and in several states they are now working to make the suspension of free and fair elections perfectly legal. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Georgia gubernatorial candidate David Perdue have each proposed creating law enforcement teams to monitor the election and no doubt intimidate the kind of voters who tend not to vote for Republicans . “History will judge them by their deeds,” says the old saw. But it doesn’t apply here, as GOP lawmakers have also banned accurate history teaching in a dozen states.

Elsewhere, members of groups that have invaded the Capitol continue to distort our politics. But rather than risk negative national attention, many of these groups have decentralized and involved their members in local-level political affairs. Labeled “patriots” and “martyrs” by mainstream Republicans, much of their “political” involvement involves physical intimidation.

Members of the ultra-violent Proud Boys – who have been named collectively in three separate federal lawsuits filed by Capitol Police Officers; the NAACP and 10 Democratic members of Congress; and the city of Washington, DC, all of whom accused the group of inciting violence on January 6, were particularly active. Once best known for fomenting street fights when they outnumber their opponents, members of the Proud Boys have become regular fixtures at school board meetings and other public gatherings across the country, appearing as “muscles” for their fellow campaigners or just for fun intimidate political opponents. According to local news reports, in July, Proud Boys “with guns, bats and body armor” served as “security” for anti-reproductive justice protesters in Salem, Oregon who opposed the removal of a graphic novel by a non-binary author, were reported by local Proud in attendance Boys ‘mocked’ and labeled ‘paedophiles’ And Proud Boys told an Orange County, NC, school board that, as one member recounted, “someone should tie rocks around our necks and we should throw ourselves in a river.” It seems likely that this sudden burst of local “activism” by the Proud Boys will continue for some time to come, as the national organization ordered members to “resign” after the Capitol riot. At least three dozen members of the group face federal charges for their involvement in the event.

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