Senator Roy Blunt is complaining over the potential partisanship of any September 11th-style commission looking into the January 6th riot on the U.S. Capitol.
“[Y]ou know, Speaker Pelosi has never suggested after her first suggestion that it would be overwhelmingly controlled by one side that there’d be a bipartisan commission…” The Missouri Republican told NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday while pushing the idea the Capitol Police board is to blame for January 6th. “And I think the Congress itself could move forward and make the changes that need to be made…That doesn’t mean I’m opposed to a commission, but frankly, I would believe that commission would probably be a reason to wait and not do the things that we know we need to do right now.”
The qualms make sense given what’s known about the proposed 1/6 Commission format. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s draft includes an eleven-member board featuring four Democrats, four Republicans, and three presidential appointees. A politically unbalanced makeup unlike the 9/11 Commission featuring five Republicans and five Democrats. Pelosi has said the draft is just a draft and meant to explain where negotiations start.
It also appears Pelosi will push forward with her probe of the Capitol storming, commission or not. POLITICO reported last week she’d task House committees to do their own investigations if no independent commission was formed. The report also noted Pelosi is likely to keep the House investigations going regardless of whether a 1/6 Commission ends up being formed.
This raises a simple question: What’s the point of a 1/6 Commission, outside of an attempt to ‘prove’ Congress is doing its job? Not that anyone should think the congressional and non-congressional probes will provide any solutions not involving some sort of increase in government power. The commission proposal draft bill is promising to look at “how technology, including online platforms, financing, and malign foreign influence campaigns” possibly impacted January 6th. You know what this means. Congress will exert some sort of influence over social media either through some sort of European-style hate speech requirement or trying to break up the bigger companies. This might sound like a victory to Republicans and national conservatives complaining about real or imagined “Big Tech censorship,” but the resulting impact will only lead to actual censorship when someone gets involved in so-called “wrong think.”
There are grander problems in need of solving, something a 1/6 Commission won’t fix. These involve the greater battle between the so-called elite and the public. Martin Gurri noted in his The Revolt of The Public and The Crisis of Authority in The New Millennium book how distrust and failure of institutions are driving people into more and more factions. His solution is making sure politicians and the elite are honest, willing to admit errors, and not be separated from the public. He also charges the public to support leaders “who seem unwilling to lie or simplify or distort to advantage.” Gurri’s main conclusion involves depowering bureaucrats and the power of the individual. No more top-down solutions, but a more localization of individuals making their own decisions.
Of course, what is Congress going to do outside of the current political theater? Blunt wants Congress to address the problems of the January 6th riot but how? Another domestic terrorism law involving rushed through “solutions” which end up causing more problems? Capitol Police reform? More spending with no off-setting cuts?
What if the best solution, the one hardly anyone in Congress is considering, is simply finding those who were involved in the storming and prosecuting them? Particularly those who destroyed and stole property or injured others.