In the summer of 1973, when I was 11, the Watergate hearings were shown on TV. The memory is still very clear to me, and for a young girl who thought her country was perfect, it was a turning point. It was obviously not.
Watergate scandal January 6
Now, almost 50 years later, I am even more aware of the problems in our country, even though I spend most of my waking hours helping other people become citizens. People in other countries have much bigger problems, such as mass shootings and “women being stripped of their rights.”
But I’m not sure that these hearings are a good way to address these flaws because, unlike Watergate, they are completely based on partisanship. And the GOP is not to blame for everything.
During the Watergate investigation, many of the most important people were Republicans. This included “All the President’s Men” like John Dean, H.R. Haldeman, and John Ehrlichman, as well as committee members like Sens. Howard Baker from Tennessee, Edward Gurney from Florida, and Lowell Weiker from Connecticut. These Republicans were not just stooges who could do the work of their Democratic colleagues. They were both equal members of a committee that wanted what was best for the country. Sam Ervin of North Carolina was the committee chair. He was fair and balanced, and he put his country before his party.
The Watergate hearings
I wish the same thing could be said about the Jan. 6 Committee. The Speaker of the House didn’t let the House minority leader pick his own members. Instead, he chose Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. That’s fine as far as it goes since both of them are real members of the GOP. However, unlike their counterparts at the Watergate hearings, they seem more interested in voicing the Democrats’ complaints than giving a full picture of what happened.
Some will say that it’s the GOP’s fault that they aren’t more involved in the proceedings since they’ve stalled and made a strange group of people loyal to the former president. That is true, and I also think that those who oppose the work of the committee are motivated less by loyalty to the president and more by a “save my own skin” mentality.
But after seeing how CNN and MSNBC show the hearings, with almost gleeful replays of every compromising moment and a “gotcha” attitude from the hosts, I can see why a lot of Americans don’t believe this committee and these hearings are real. By proxy, the hearings are being used to smear anyone who voted for Donald Trump, refused to condemn his actions as president, questioned the fairness of the election process, or thinks the Democrats’ social agenda is too extreme.
The Capitol being broken into
I think Trump did something awful on January 6. His actions that day were not honorable, and after I saw the Capitol being broken into, I wanted hearings and answers. Every law-abiding American wants the same thing.
But these hearings don’t make us or our history look good. The members are acting like prosecutors in front of a grand jury, and their presentations are one-sided and colored by their own personal animosity. Jamie Raskin doesn’t like this president very much, and he tried very hard to get him removed from office. We should all turn down the volume when he talks.
Some people will try to put this hearing up there with Watergate as an example of American courage. In the end, though, I think it will fall somewhere between the Stalin-like show trials of the McCarthy era, the Iran-Contra scandal, and the sincere attempt to honor our founding principles in 1973. This is not even close.
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