Three months ago today, an insurrectionist mob, responding to Donald Trump's ridiculous lies, launched a deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol. The riot was the most serious violence against our seat of government in centuries.
And yet, exactly three months later, the history of what transpired has already been rewritten for many Republican voters. Reuters reported yesterday:
Since the deadly Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, former President Donald Trump and his Republican allies have pushed false and misleading accounts to downplay the event that left five dead and scores of others wounded. His supporters appear to have listened. Three months after a mob of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol to try to overturn his November election loss, about half of Republicans believe the siege was largely a non-violent protest or was the handiwork of left-wing activists "trying to make Trump look bad," a new Reuters/Ipsos poll has found.
The same poll found that six in 10 Republicans also believe the false claim put out by Trump that November's presidential election "was stolen" from him.
What should be seen as a bonkers conspiracy theory, found only on the fringes, appears to have been embraced by a majority of a major political party's voters.
There's no great mystery as to how this nonsense has taken root. The week before the national poll was conducted, for example, Donald Trump falsely told Fox News that the rioters posed "zero threat" and were merely "hugging and kissing the police."
The former president's dishonesty came on the heels of related rhetoric from Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), who has peddled a variety of related claims, including alleging that the mob was secretly made up of "fake Trump protesters," praising the rioters' patriotism, and arguing the armed insurrectionists may not have actually been armed.
Many GOP voters, unaware that their leaders are lying to them, have come to believe things that are plainly false.
The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty noted in her latest column, "Those who were there that day are haunted by memories of the sound of breaking glass. The horror of hearing shots fired in the House chamber, which was supposed to be one of the safest spots in Washington. The burn of tear gas. Fears for colleagues who couldn't be accounted."
She added, "[S]hameless revisionism cannot be allowed to take root. It is important to keep fresh in our memories the true sights and sounds of that day — a day when Congress was supposed to be performing its duty to certify the electoral college tally of the 2020 election. A day when democracy itself came under attack by faux patriots."
The problem, of course, is that for much of the GOP base, the shameless revisionism has already taken root.
Dangerous conditions led to violence on Jan. 6: lies from powerful political voices, conspiratorial nonsense, and confused voters unsure whom to believe, is a toxic combination. Three months to the day later, it's hard not to wonder whether those conditions have really changed.