Politics is a funny thing. The people that participate in it are constantly able to convince themselves that what they do won’t have the opposite effect from what they intended. Nancy Pelosi’s January 6th select committee, which began earlier this week, is no different.
When their 2022 electoral prospects collapsing, Democrats thought they had their backup figured out. They’d start an “investigation” of January 6th to keep it in the news and trot out politically active police officers to emote and otherwise sell the entire thing to the American people. This was going to be the brilliant ploy that saved them. They even got Liz Cheney and another “Republican” to go along with it. What could possibly go wrong?
Well, if the latest polling is any indication, a lot of things.
— New York Post (@nypost) July 31, 2021
Among voters of all parties, 53 percent supported the investigation, down from 66 percent in the survey in June and 58 percent just a week ago. Four out of five Democrats were in favor, while only a quarter of Republicans were, along with half of independents.
Why the continued fall in support for the committee? I think the answer is obvious. There’s a lot of peer pressure that comes along with talking about January 6th. Someone that dares to suggest it wasn’t the worst attack on the country since the Civil War is often derided and called an apologist, even if they otherwise hold a nuanced view of condemnation of the events. But as the reality of the committee has become clear for all to see — that it is a publicity stunt with no intention of investigating anything relevant — people are finally saying enough.
Nothing that happened on the first day of the hearings was newsworthy. One officer, Harry Dunn, tried to promote himself as an unbiased observer just telling his story. He ended up lying directly about the events of January 6th while failing to note he’s a rabidly left-wing partisan. That kind of thing doesn’t sit well with people who were otherwise on the fence about whether to support the committee or not.
Further, no amount of fake crying can substitute for substantive investigation. Questions about the security failures, including the failures of the USCP and their Congressional leadership, are actually within the purview of Congress. Yet, Pelosi has no interest in exploring those topics and ensured no Republican would sit on the committee who would push the issue. Instead, she ensured the committee will be nothing more than a factory for recriminations and campaign commercials.
Lastly, there are a lot of Americans sitting at home right now dealing with high inflation, a lagging economy, the repercussions of a border crisis, and mindless COVID measures. They are probably not too keen on seeing Congress waste time on Adam Schiff ranting about something that isn’t material to any normal person’s life. The entire committee comes across as a tone-deaf misappropriation of priorities.
When it comes to politics, when you put a blinding light on an issue and go full Leroy Jenkins into the partisan divide over it, that will also breed stronger polarization. There were a non-negligible amount of Republicans in that original 66% that approved of the committee. They’ve now been alienated by Pelosi’s antics. That’s how you go from 66% to 53% in a month.
Democrats are left with two choices. They can keep trying to run this into the ground, further driving down the support they have and appearing out of touch going into 2022, or they can wrap this up quickly, put out a scathing report, and declare victory. We’ll see what path they take, but neither is going to do much to change their fortunes.