The university’s Center for Politics held a conference marking the one-year anniversary of the storming of the United States Capitol on Thursday. Specific speakers discussed the way forward in the aftermath of the attack and the damage it caused in its aftermath.
The virtual event, “The Shock of January 6: The First Annual Conference,” began at 6 p.m. and hosted 12 speakers including Senator Tim Kaine, Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Katie Couric, a 1979 college graduate and journalist.
The conference was attended by approximately 2,500 people and hosted by Larry Sabato, Director of the Policy Center. Established in 1998, the center aims to advance democracy and politics around the world through events, education, and publications. Sabato was seated in the Dome Room on the Rotunda while the participants joined him almost from their homes or offices.
The rebellion took place on January 6 and was led by supporters of former President Donald Trump who believed that the results of the 2020 presidential election were wrong and supported by voter fraud. As the protests erupted, a joint session of Congress convened to certify President Joe Biden’s victory.
The protesters managed to break through the barriers surrounding the Capitol and made their way to eventually enter the building. Several police officers were injured, the building was damaged and five people were killed.
Sabato began the event with his own comments about the severity of the attack.
“If our republic is to survive, and our democracy is to survive, that is something we must never forget,” Sabato said.
The first guest speaker that Sabato interviewed was CNN anchor Jim Acosta. In his career, Acosta attended several Trump rallies as a way to connect with the former president’s supporters. Sabato used this experience to ask Acosta about the possibility of presenting the true facts of this radical faction in the country.
Acosta said he believes it is possible to connect with people and show them the truth based on his conversations with citizens and Trump supporters.
“If the truth can be told in a miraculous way, I think we can get past the fog Trump has put out there,” Acosta said. “We cannot be impartial in the face of outright racism from the President of the United States and outright lies from the President of the United States.”
After the first interview, Sabato introduced his next three guests, including Mary Trump, author of “Reckoning: Shocking Our Nation and Finding a Way to Heal,” New York Times columnist Jamal Bowie and Tara Stemeyer, former GOP communications director.
During this clip, Sabato posed a question to the group regarding steps that should be taken to prevent an accident in the future like this one. Bowie responded by presenting a dual set of issues that play a role in American democracy.
“I think the problem and the issue is that the main impediments to moving to a different path are in part structural in terms of American democracy, and institutional in terms of the Republican Party,” Bowie said.
He made this clear by making it clear that many Republicans count on winning the presidency without a popular vote and instead through the Electoral College. There have been four instances in which the president won the electoral vote but not the popular vote, including Trump in 2016.
In addition, Bowie said, some Republicans fear that the changing demographics of the United States will make it impossible for them to win as younger generations appear to be more racially diverse. According to a PEW research study, nearly half of children ages 6 to 21 in the country are from racial or ethnic minorities. Additionally, between 2000 and 2019, the Asian population grew by 81 percent, followed in second place by a 70 percent increase in the Hispanic population.
Later in the conversation, Sitmeyer added that she doesn’t think there is any hope of the GOP becoming more mainstream. This was made clear to her when party leaders such as Senator Mitch McConnell did not try to stop Trump from claiming election fraud on the night of November 3.
As for what the future might look like with more events like the Jan. 6 incident, Bowie said he thinks it might look a lot like the past where certain groups of citizens were unable to vote.
“It’s just something we have to work through and move forward with, and try to preserve electoral democracy as much as we can,” Bowie said.
Continuing the program, Sabato brought in Dr. Larry Shack and Dr. Mick McWilliams, founders of Project Home Fire. The project, which is part of the Policy Center, provides survey and data analysis on various policy issues including the views surrounding January 6.
The specific data provided by Shack and McWilliams consists of a survey — conducted during the summer of 2021 — of 1,000 people who voted for Biden and 1,000 people who voted for Trump. Voters were asked questions about their views of the January 6 event participants and their commitment to democracy.
When brought up with the statement – “The people who occupied the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 should be commended, because they were mostly patriotic Americans trying to right the wrong in the 2020 presidential election that was unfairly stolen from Donald Trump through massive election fraud.” – he agreed 52 percent of Trump voters and only 10 percent of Biden voters at least to some degree.
The data showed that nearly 60 percent of both groups believe that the country is a less representative democracy than one that serves wealthy members of society.
“What we’ve identified is that there are 40 million Biden and Trump voters combined who choose persuasion and compromise over conflict and confrontation, who embrace the idea that government can and should work for the people and who want government to proactively address the issues that polarize our politics, Shaq Said.
The next guest hosted by Sabato was Miles Taylor, co-founder of Renew America and author of the 2018 New York Times article, Originally Unknown, who is critical of Trump. The Renew America movement aims to provide voters of all political persuasions with the candidate information they need to make informed decisions. In his interview, Taylor provided statistics on current candidates for the position.
The stats included that at present there are 24 individuals running for political office who participated in the January 6 event, and 50 people connected to QAnon — a conspiracy theory that believes Trump is in the process of preventing the devil from cult pedophiles in government — running for federal office. and at least 75 congressional candidates who believed the presidential election had been stolen.
“If the election were to be held today, we think we would see more of these fringe plots promoting more elected candidates for Congress than fewer, which is our concern, which is why we want to launch this public education project,” Taylor said.
Following Taylor’s stats, Sabato introduced Jonathan Karl, ABC News president and Washington correspondent. Karl stated that trying to overturn the election results on November 3, 2020 was a much closer call than many people realize.
“There were a number of places along the way where had it not been for the actions of a few individuals, I think things could have been much worse,” Karl said.
Specifically, Karl noted that it is unclear who will have the power to prevent former Vice President Mike Pence from deciding on the electoral balance. One of the vice president’s roles is to serve as the speaker of the Senate — and as a result, Pence co-certified the January 6 election results. He was pressured by Trump to cancel the November 3 election, but ultimately did not. .
Next, Chris Krebs, former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and Couric joined Sabato to discuss disinformation and disinformation.
“Disinformation and outright lies are assimilated and disseminated with anger-fuelling and algorithms abandoned, and as we have seen it has truly laid the foundation for many [Jan 6.] Couric said.
Krebs added to Couric’s comments that misinformation is nothing new. Misinformation and misinformation have developed alongside human language but are only beginning to create problems on a large scale. The majority of the country’s population has access to a digital device and as a result social media networks have contributed to the proliferation.
“It’s only been sped up recently, because of the internet and because of the different platforms we have,” Krebs said.
The next participant, Kane, was present at the Capitol during the January 6 protest. Sabato asked him about the feelings he experienced during and after the event. Kane pointed out that he was very angry after the attack and only months later was able to truly determine the course of that anger.
During his career, Kane worked as a civil rights attorney and as a result witnessed a lot of inequality. However, he commented that as a white man he had not experienced it directly.
“For about four or five hours on January 6, 2021, for a brief period of time, I felt how disenfranchised it was,” Kane said.
Kane further added that the events of January 6 were the embodiment of democracy for him.
“It has been a stress test for our democracy that we have barely made it but not yet,” he said.
Finally, Sabato offered a recently taped interview with Cheney because she was unavailable Thursday night. She is one of only Republicans, and the other is Representative Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, who is a participant in the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6 Attack on the Capitol — established in June to investigate the attack on the Capitol.
During the interview, Cheney expressed that efforts are underway for Trump supporters to take office, specifically after the 2022 and 2024 elections, and voters should realize the importance of electing officials committed to democracy.
“You look at some of the assurances I’ve seen for President Trump in places like Michigan — at the local level, state level offices at the county level — to put people who owe loyalty to Donald Trump instead of the constitution and election process and order,” she said.
Finally, Cheney expressed the hope that she would be captured by young people in her state and country who wish to engage in the political process. “I think politics is, fundamentally, about the influence of citizens on our government, and that’s a good thing, and it’s a very important thing,” Cheney said.