A political scientist breaks down the impact of the January 6 Committee | VTX


The Jan. 6 Committee’s work exposed many weaknesses and tensions in our political system, while underscoring the continued importance of many individuals committing to their constitutional oaths, says a Virginia Tech expert.

Political science professor Karen Hult shares her insights in the following Q&A.

With the final hearing on January 6, what are your main takeaways?

-Former President Trump played a central role in many “stop theft” efforts to block the nomination of the candidate who won the November 2020 presidential election.

— Compelling claims by former Trump administration officials and Republicans that Trump was “willfully ignorant” of both the lack of evidence that he had lost key states and their Electoral College votes and the fact that protests from his tweet “”will be wild”” were catalyzed on January 6, 2020, may be violent and could threaten the lives of Vice President Mike Pence, members of Congress and others.

-The institutional and legal norms and constraints aimed at ensuring the peaceful transfer of power are fragile.

Has this process contributed to restoring bipartisan confidence in the elections?

Throughout US history, there have been times, groups, and regions of the country when the legitimacy of elections has been questioned. Contemporary partisan polarization, floods of money flowing into elections and advocacy efforts, the spread of false information on social and other media, and the state’s partisan legislative (and judicial) efforts to influence access voters all likely contributed to the current skepticism about the fairness of elections. It seems doubtful that audiences alone can do much to build trust in elections, especially across ideological, partisan and demographic divides.

Did the hearings impact Trump’s political base support?

It’s hard to say with certainty. At least in the short term, some Republicans have expressed less support for Trump and in particular his new presidential bid. At the same time, the audiences may have further mobilized parts of his base, deepening both their support for so-called Trumpism and their hostility toward those who argue he lost the 2020 election.

Will the hearing have an impact on the midterm primaries?

Until mid-July, Trump-endorsed candidates had a mixed record of success in the Republican primaries. He had visible successes in Pennsylvania and Maryland, but defeats in Georgia and Nebraska. The fall 2022 general election, of course, is the next test — in terms of partisan control of the U.S. House and Senate and state governorships and legislatures, as well as once less visible offices like the Attorney General of the State and the Secretary of State. As is usually the case, the ability of Republicans and Democrats to train voters for their candidates while seeking to discourage supporters of their opponents is likely to be crucial. Hearings are likely to be only a relatively large part of most people’s voting decisions, competing with party loyalty and concern for issues such as inflation, immigration, reproductive rights and the climate change.

Any other thoughts to offer?

I will simply repeat that one of the main contributions of the hearings was the work of the Committee to assemble, construct and communicate a systematic account of what happened before and after the 2020 presidential election and the attack on the Capitol. , as well as how and why the threat of a peaceful transition of power arose.

The Committee’s final report may offer several possible legislative responses (for example, revising the voter count law as a bipartisan group of senators is currently doing), and the Committee discusses the scope and nature of the criminal referrals that he could do to the US Department of Justice. . It is by no means certain that the Committee’s report or other actions will be sufficient to address the continuing threats to the constitutional republic of the United States.

About Hult
Karen Hult, a professor of political science at Virginia Tech, teaches political science at Virginia Tech and its Center for Public Administration and Politics, with expertise in the U.S. presidency, politics, politics, and governance of U.S. states, as well as organizational and institutional theory. See his biography.

Schedule an interview
To arrange a live or recorded interview, contact Shannon Andrea by email or by phone at (703) 399-9494.

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