In true fascist form, GOP continues to push two Big Lies
Trump supporters force their way through a police barrier, Jan. 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. According to Republican members of Congress, these rioters were akin to tourists on a picnic. | Julio Cortez / AP

WASHINGTON—Hundreds of millions around the world watched on television and social media on Jan. 6 as thousands of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol in an insurrection aimed at overturning the results of the 2020 election. The five deaths they caused were real and documented for the world to see, as were the injuries, many serious, sustained by more than 140 police officers. Hundreds were arrested as they carried out these crimes and many of those arrests too were witnessed by millions on the day itself and during the weeks following the insurrection.

How then to explain the continued attempt by GOP lawmakers to pretend that nothing of the sort ever happened? You would never know by looking at the pictures, one GOP lawmaker said last week, that this was anything more than a bunch of tourists picnicking in D.C. Republicans are whitewashing what happened. What started out as the Big Lie that Trump really won the election has expanded now into another Big Lie: There never was an insurrection, GOP lawmakers are saying, as they attempt to retell the story their own way.

They really intensified their second Big Lie during a House oversight committee hearing last Wednesday discussing what went wrong in police preparation for the Jan. 6 riot, and what the Trump administration did or did not do to stop the insurrection. “Let me be clear: There was no insurrection,” Rep. Andrew Clyde, R-Ga., falsely insisted. “And to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a bold-faced lie.” It was not an insurrection that involved storming of the Capitol, smashing windows, hunting down lawmakers, causing death, and attacking police. No, according to Clyde, the video looked to him like “a normal tourist visit.”

The Big Lie is a time-tested tactic used by fascists. By repeating it over and over again, the lie becomes truth. The tactic is especially useful, as it is for the GOP when you want to rewrite history. We all know that the insurrection was not a “tourist visit.” Motivated by the criminal ex-President Donald Trump who triggered the attack by urging his criminal mob to “fight like hell,” hundreds of them took him at his word and stormed the Capitol. They prepared a noose and searched for Vice President Mike Pence, shouting, “Hang Mike Pence!” as they searched the halls for him. They hunted for Speaker Nancy Pelosi and progressive New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Instead, we are told by a GOP lawmaker, all of that was simply part of a “picnic.”

Another major feature of the fascist Big Lie technique is to portray the aggressor as the victim and the victim as the aggressor. Jewish people who had their small businesses destroyed and were thrown into death camps by Hitler’s government in the 1930s were not victims. According to the Big Lie, they were the victimizers who, in league with international bankers, were stealing from the German people.

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga., is trying the same thing the Nazis did. He is claiming that Trump supporters were the real victims that day, citing the death of Trump supporter Ashley Babbitt, who was killed by a U.S. Capitol Police officer. He failed to mention that she had just smashed in a door and was shot as she tried to enter the House chamber by climbing through the broken glass.

“It was Trump supporters who lost their lives that day, not Trump supporters who were taking the lives of others,” Hice said. Again, it’s the Big Lie turning truth on its head, and we can expect it to be repeated and repeated until more and more people believe it.

Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., a white nationalist disowned by his own family for helping to incite the insurrection, attempted to paint Babbitt as a “veteran wrapped in an American flag.” He also described the hundreds of insurrectionists arrested and charged by the FBI as “peaceful patriots” who are being “harassed.”

Rep. Ralph Norman, R-S.C., adds another unique twist to the Big Lie by claiming that those who rioted and committed violent acts on Jan. 6 were actually not Trump supporters. He says the people who stormed the Capitol that day were actually supporters of Antifa and Black Lives Matter trying to make Trump and the right wing look bad. He is spreading and repeating this lie despite the public records available on the hundreds who have been arrested—records that show their long histories of loyalty to right-wing causes.

The most important thing exposed by last week’s hearings, however, is the extreme danger the GOP lies pose for democracy in our country.

They confirmed that the GOP is determined to continue pushing the lie that Trump actually won the election. They confirmed that the GOP is now pushing a second Big Lie, the claim that the insurrection never happened. They confirmed that the GOP is prepared to excommunicate anyone who does not go along with these two Big Lies. Witness the replacement of Wyoming Rep. Liz Cheney in the GOP House leadership.

What those hearings also confirm is that democracy, not just inside the GOP, but in the country as a whole, is in danger. The more that people start to believe the Big Lies, the more that democracy is threatened. For this reason, the establishment of a bipartisan commission to study what happened on Jan. 6 is to be welcomed. The coming out of any and all GOP lawmakers willing to challenge the Big Lies is to be welcomed, and the necessity for everyone else to challenge those lies is also obvious.

Another similarity between the GOP and fascist parties of the past is the caliber of people currently playing a leading role in the party. Right now, we see among the liars Republican Rep. Matthew Gaetz of Florida, who is traveling the country and pushing the Big Lies. Rep. Marjorie Greene of Georgia is doing the same thing. It matters not that one is likely a criminal sex abuser and the other is an outrageous conspiracy theorist who stalks fellow lawmakers. The Nazis had plenty of criminals and dangerous conspiracists playing leading roles in their party. Gaetz and Greene were out there demanding the ouster of Cheney for not accepting the Big Lie. These two pro-fascists today function as GOP leaders, whipping all the GOP cowards into submission. So did the Nazis in the 1930s. The sorry excuse for GOP leaders of today, Gaetz and Greene, got their way; Cheney was ousted.

Last Wednesday, what the nation witnessed was the GOP’s determination to follow the path of fascism. Rep. Liz Cheney was ousted from her position for doing only the bare minimum any decent lawmaker should do by refusing to accept the Big Republican Lie that the election was stolen. Her action, one that should be expected of any lawmaker, appears like an act of heroism when compared to the cowardly collapse of the GOP majority to the demands of Trump and the rest of his fascist followers.

“The 2020 presidential election was not stolen,” Cheney tweeted last week in response to a Trump statement calling the election “fraudulent.”

“Anyone who claims it was is spreading THE BIG LIE, turning their back on the rule of law, and poisoning our democratic system,” she said.

The attempt by GOP lawmakers to convince the public there wasn’t an insurrection on Jan. 6, just like the lie that the election was stolen from Trump, must be challenged by people across the political spectrum. The more that people accept these two particular Big Lies, the more likely it is that the fascists will succeed in America. The path to defeating them lies with exposing the lies and replacing them with the truth.

Read more:

> Trump faction purges Cheney; ‘Big Lie’ politics ricochet on GOP establishment

> Lies and white supremacy fuel Republican voter suppression campaign


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.