A political movement built on lies will justify using violence

Fueled by lies from GOP leaders, protesters storm the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to thwart the validation of the 2020 presidential election. Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times/Tribune News Service

WATERTOWN — The lies told by Republicans regarding the attempt by Donald Trump’s supporters to overthrow the U.S. government on Jan. 6, 2021, have increased dramatically over the past year.

One of the most bizarre claims came from U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik, R- Schuylerville. During a news conference in July, she parroted the GOP fabrication that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility for the U.S. Capitol being so vulnerable during the insurrection.

News organizations debunked this false assertion. But undeterred by reality, Stefanik repeated this lie Wednesday, on the eve of the first anniversary of the failed coup.

She conveniently failed to lay any blame for the attack on Trump, who whipped up the violent radicals with his lies about a rigged election. She also seemed to forget that Trump sat on his hands for several hours while rioters ransacked the Capitol, assaulted police officers and searched for public officials to either take captive or murder.

Imagine that! A sitting president does absolutely nothing as the seat of the U.S. government comes under siege in an attempt to subvert the will of American voters — and Stefanik ignores it when pointing fingers.

Trump’s refusal to do anything to stop the violence when it began Jan. 6 is more repulsive given that this act of domestic terrorism was carried out on his behalf. If his behavior doesn’t qualify as treason, I don’t know what does.

But don’t ask members of the GOP to acknowledge this. They want to perpetuate the fantasy that Trump defeated Joe Biden in 2020 and that the former president’s opponents prompted the travesty of Jan. 6.

I thought this was the party of personal responsibility! I thought this was the party of law and order!

Why have so many Republicans abandoned any sense of honor? Is gaining power for themselves so alluring that they’ll repeatedly deny incontrovertible truths while shredding our democratic process?

Stefanik took full advantage of the slavish devotion that numerous Republicans feel toward Trump by working to oust U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., as chair of the House Republican Conference last spring. Cheney refused to perpetuate the myths about Trump; she sees him for who he really is and wasn’t afraid to speak her mind.

But Stefanik has gleefully participated in the charade, and Republicans rewarded her for it. So the GOP leadership and many of the party’s members have based their loyalty not on a commitment to facts but on utter fabrications.

One of the lies that so many Trump supporters are telling is that what happened on Jan. 6 was not an insurrection. Merrian-Webster Dictionary defines this as a “violent attempt to take control of a government.”

Members of Congress were validating the results of the 2020 election. The rioters employed violence and the threat of violence to thwart the proceedings and have their own president named.

How does Jan. 6 not fall into category of an insurrection? That the frenzied mob didn’t succeed is irrelevant. The goal of the people who participated in the attack was to derail the lawful process underway and to impose their will on the nation.

In other words: This was an insurrection, a coup, an act of domestic terrorism. It resulted in the deaths of some of the rioters as well as several police officers, a few of them by suicide. More than 140 officers were wounded, many of them seriously.

Worst of all, it was an assault on how we practice democracy. We maintain the vibrancy of our constitutional republic by allowing eligible citizens to vote in elections conducted fairly and freely. Part of the deal is that we live with the results, even if we object to them.

But fueled by the lies of Trump and other GOP figures such as Stefanik, the radical thugs decided to ignore this protocol — as well as the rule of law — and tried to overturn the election results. Not a shred of evidence has been produced showing that widespread fraud swayed the election in any way. Jan. 6 is a stain on American democracy that will last forever.

People who suggest otherwise are either lying or delusional. And having exposed themselves as individuals who refuse to accept reality, we must consider them part of the problem. We can’t adequately address our concerns as a nation if the leaders of a major political party continue along the destructive path of falsehoods rather than embracing the truth.

Jerry Moore is the editorial page editor for the Watertown Daily Times. Readers may call him at 315-661-2369 or send emails to jmoore@wdt.net. They also may follow him on Twitter: @WDT_OpEd.

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(14) comments


Great column, Jerry.

Charlie McGrath

I keep reading about the "big lie". Is that referring to the Russia collusion story about Trump?



Farmer Liz

Thank you for this excellent article. Sadly, Elise's supporters -like Hotel Mike- simply do not seem to care about her lies, her collusion with insurrectionists, or her blind ambition. I don't know what it could possibly take to elect a representative with integrity. Elise rose from the ashes on Jan. 6 to try to negate the will of the people, and her cult simply cannot see it.

She's back

SO, can I safely assume that the WDT will NOT be endorsing Ms. Stefanik in 2022????


During a news conference in July, she parroted the GOP fabrication that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi bears responsibility for the U.S. Capitol being so vulnerable during the insurrection.

Great editorial. Probably saying that because I’ve said so much of what’s in it. On the bit above, it’s been Stefanik’s M.O. for awhile now. She did it over Tedra Cobb’s taxes. It was pointed out to her how incorrect it was what she was saying and she continued to make the same claims. It’s sad to think how we could’ve had a rep as honorable as Cobb.

The problem the GOP has with the Big Lie is that they can’t hold onto it and they can’t let go. As long as they maintain it they’re glued to Trump. But, I’d disown it em masse like they really need to they alienate all of Trump’s cult followers. Some of whom are legitimately dangerous (see January 6th). So, they remain attached to the tarbaby and not a briar patch in sight. Maybe that works out. If it does, it’s bad for the country. If it doesn’t, it’s really, really bad for Republicans.

hermit thrush

here is the fbi's published definition of domestic terrorism:

Violent, criminal acts committed by individuals and/or groups to further ideological goals stemming from domestic influences, such as those of a political, religious, social, racial, or environmental nature.

what happened on jan. 6 fits the definition like a hand in glove. it was an expressly political act.

the great problem our country is facing that one of our two political parties has been taken over by an extremist faction which is at war with reality.


Trump still living rent free in the left’s head.


How about an editorial on Biden’s failed Covid policies, southern border, inflation, energy costs, jobs, etc, instead of the J6 sham of a commission that only partisan democrats care about?


You try to divert. Stick to issue of the Trump/Stefanik insurrection. It is more important than any other issue in our democracy.


“ This was an insurrection, a coup, an act of domestic terrorism”!then why hasn’t anyone been charged with insurrection or terrorism? This editorial is based on hypotheticals and baseless opinions.


Thanks for describing the situation with such clarity and honesty.


This is an excellent and to the point editorial and I applaud the WDT for this. Thank you.

Middle Class Mike

Steve Bannon was knee-deep in January 6

Analysis by Chris Cillizza, CNN Editor-at-large

Updated 2:27 AM EDT, Fri September 24, 2021

“We are going to kill it in the crib. Kill the Biden presidency in the crib,' he said." Steve Bannon

‘Peril’ bestseller by Bob Woodward

“That conversation with Trump on December 30 was far from the only time the two talked in the lead-up to January 6. In fact, after a contentious meeting on January 5 in which Pence told Trump he would not overturn the election results the next day, Trump called Bannon, who was at a local DC hotel with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, to commiserate. As Woodward and Costa write:

"Trump brought up his meeting with Pence. He said the vice president's whole demeanor had changed -- Pence was not the man he had long known.

"'He was very arrogant,' Trump said.

"Bannon agreed."

CNN “And in the wake of the January 6 insurrection, Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, invoked Bannon in trying to understand the origins of that day.

"It was a planned revolution," Woodward and Costa write. "Steve Bannon's vision coming to life. Bring it all down, blow it up, burn it, and emerge with power."

Bannon, speaking on his "War Room" podcast this week, confirmed that had huddled with Trump to plot a way to fundamentally undermine the Biden presidency on January 6 and even sort-of declare victory.” CNN Politics


Steve Bannon: “But what turned me against the whole establishment was coming back from running companies in Asia in 2008 and seeing that Bush had fucked up as badly as Carter. The whole country was a disaster."[61]

At the time of his separation from the Navy, Bannon held the rank of lieutenant (O-3).[1][a]”

Note Bannon was Trump’s Strategic Advisor. My feeling is 1:6 Inquiry, will likely implicate Steve Bannon as key planner of the Capitol Riot and Insurrection. The Inquiry will show there was a conspiracy on the highest levels to block the peaceful and seamless transfer of power to President Joe Biden.

Part of this strategic plan was the suppression of the Electoral Certification Process with alleged claims of voting irregularities and outright fraud.

Rep. Elise Stefanik as a key Trump Adviser, who voted against certification of States Electoral Votes, is a likely target. Rep. Liz Cheney will be a tough adversary for Elise Stefanik. While Liz Cheney may be the most motivated to help topple Rep. Elise Stefanik from power.

Mike Flynn ‘Mddle Class Mike’

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