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Following the Democrats’ lead

Erick Erickson | Jan. 6 represented a logical stop on our country’s road to decay

Protesters fill the Wisconsin state Capitol in 2011 in opposition to a Republican-sponsored collective bargaining bill. Associated Press/Photo by Andy Manis

Following the Democrats’ lead
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Sadly, some on the right are trying to rewrite Jan. 6, 2021, as a day of celebration. A recent column in a Trump-centric publication compared it to Bastille Day and the French Revolution—something no conservative should celebrate. What happened one year ago today was a violent incursion into the U.S. Capitol to attempt to stop Congress from counting Electoral College votes. While it was far less than what some claim—it wasn’t a “coup”—it was a logical stop on our republic’s road to decay.

“Selected, not elected” became a mantra of Democrats after President George W. Bush’s win in 2000. The result not only locked us into a red state vs. blue state dynamic but also became the first election in a long time where a party refused to accept the results. As an aside, up until 2000, news networks used blue states to represent the party that held the White House and red states for the challenger party. But the 2000 election was the first in living memory where a challenger won the Electoral College while losing the popular vote. That gave Democrats ammunition to refuse legitimacy for Bush. Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., a civil rights icon, refused to attend Bush’s inauguration because he considered it illegitimate.

Four years later, Bush won with 51 percent of the vote. But Democrats began whispering that he had stolen Ohio with the help of then–Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell. Democrats went so far as to cast doubt on the Diebold election machines used in the state, claiming Blackwell had agreed to purchase them under nefarious conditions and alleged security problems that cast doubt on the outcome.

In 2016, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and her party orchestrated a smear campaign against Donald Trump, claiming Russian shenanigans won the presidency for him. On Dec. 19, 2016, as Electoral College delegates convened in all 50 states, progressive protestors gathered outside state Capitol buildings demanding that electors reject Trump. At least one refused to vote for him. Actor Martin Sheen (known for playing President Josiah Bartlett on the TV series The West Wing), filmmaker Michael Moore, the cast of Saturday Night Live, and other celebrities begged electors to hand the election to Clinton. On Inauguration Day 2017, progressive rioters stormed through Washington, D.C., smashing storefronts and setting cars on fire. Again, Rep. Lewis refused to attend an inauguration because of its “illegitimacy.”

In 2018, Democrat Stacey Abrams failed to force Georgia’s gubernatorial race into a runoff. Her Republican opponent, Brian Kemp, then the state’s secretary of state, had cleared the needed 50 percent threshold and was duly elected. Abrams not only refused to concede, but progressives used the national press to advance a theory of voter suppression in Georgia. To this day, Hillary Clinton and others claim Republicans stole the race from Abrams. To this day, Abrams refuses to concede that Kemp legitimately won.

What happened in Wisconsin, Texas, and Washington was all shameful. But much of the American press corps and pundit class’ choice to condemn Republicans and praise or ignore Democrats only escalates matters.

Just two years later, Republicans would turn the Democrats’ playbook on them. President Trump refused to concede to Joe Biden and alleged shenanigans cost him the election. Why not? Democrats had been doing it since 2000. Many Republicans viewed their antics as not only legitimate, but also mirroring behavior the press had excused for Democrats over the last two decades.

As for incursions into Capitol buildings, Democrats had been doing that, too. In Wisconsin, Texas, and other states over the past decade, progressive protestors have stormed state Capitols to disrupt legislatures. “Thousands of protesters rushed to the … Capitol Wednesday night, forcing their way through doors, crawling through windows and jamming corridors,” is how the newspaper in Madison, Wis., described progressive activists storming the Wisconsin State Capitol in 2011 to stop Republicans from passing collective bargaining reform. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called it an “impressive show of democracy” and said she stood with the protestors.

In Texas, progressive protestors stormed the state Capitol in Austin in 2013 to stop a pro-life measure. The media praised then–state Sen. Wendy Davis for attempting to filibuster the measure. Democrats cheered on the activists for disrupting the legislative session.

Trump supporters storming the U.S. Capitol were beyond excuse, but during Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett’s U.S. Supreme Court hearings, progressive activists tried to disrupt committee meetings and votes. In truth, we should condemn all this behavior, regardless of who is doing it. Appealing to “democratic norms” cannot be something trotted out as self-serving. But when the media only condemns Republicans, the condemnation looks more like partisan agenda-setting than legitimate criticism. Why were protestors smashing windows and invading the Wisconsin state Capitol to shut down its legislature an impressive show of democracy, but Republicans doing the same in Washington not?

What happened in Wisconsin, Texas, and Washington was all shameful. But much of the American press corps and pundit class’ choice to condemn Republicans and praise or ignore Democrats only escalates matters. Each side gets to engage in whataboutism, the media gets to play favorites, and the republic continues its slide into decay. Either this behavior must be condemned by all, or both sides will use it to their advantage.

Erick Erickson

Erick Erickson is a lawyer by training, has been a political campaign manager and consultant, helped start one of the premiere grassroots conservative websites in the world, served as a political contributor for CNN and Fox News, and hosts evening drive time on WSB Radio in Atlanta.


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I guess the real question is if the election was stolen. If it was then it is understandable how a few out of a very large number became irate and stormed the Capitol. We do know that social media went to war with the idea that the election was stolen- even taking information down from the Internet that made this claim. But in reading the Time Magazine article, that was the plan of “controlling the data” to ensure that Trump wasn’t re-elected. It was called a “conspiracy” by the leftist author where a Union guy known for fixing elections was the mastermind. The 1/2 billion about, given by Zuckerberg was also useful for their cause where leftist activists were left running the elections, overturning state and state constitutional law, and essentially making a mockery of our election process.

But the left was very devious in all their activities but especially with the January 6th event. Trump had resisted the stealing of the election but he was met with planned resistance every step of the way. The last bump in the road was to ensure the certification of the election and by playing on the emotions of the Trump supporters, they wanted to create a “insurrection” to push back against the legitimate questions that were being asked. There is much video footage of individuals inciting the attack on the Capitol where one scene an older man is seen telling people to go into the Capitol the next day. A guy next to him shouts out “Fed Fed Fed!” multiple times warning the listeners that this guy was from the government and inciting illegal behavior. The guy encouraging storming the Capitol was never arrested but was let go likely because many think he worked for the FBI. Many of the people who were arrested were later let go and they too were suspected of working for the FBI, but the government has been closed lip on this and the Republicans haven’t been able to investigate this since they don’t control the Congress. Tucker Carlson has done some excellent investigation into this but we will have to see what becomes of this as more and more info is brought to light.

I agree that the rioters should not have broken into the Capitol but if we find out the plot was largely due to the FBI inciting it then this needs to be thoroughly investigated and the people brought to justice. We cannot have rogue bureaucracies doing whatever they want meddling in elections. Already we have seen how the Russian collusion narrative was hatched by the Democrats in an attempt to use the intelligence agencies to remove Trump using the FISA Warrants to spy on the man. It would not be surprising to find out more similar skulduggery is being hatched by the left and the FBI.

We cannot become so spiritual minded that we fail to see the political war raging against us. We need to resist those illegally manipulating our political process and stealing elections. We cannot be naive to what is happening but make sure everything is grounded in truth, but this takes work to do. If we are faithful and stand for the truth, God will honor us and will eventually bring to light the duplicity of our enemies, though we shouldn’t be surprised that many will take time to see the truth where some may never see it.


"Remember those who are in prison, as though in prison with them, and those who are mistreated, since you also are in the body." Hebrews 13:3
There are people STILL in prison as a result of January 6th, some who have been in solitary confinement, who have not been charged with insurrection, or anything worse than trespassing, who have not had a speedy or any other kind of trial. Some of these people were so far from any awareness of anything they might have done wrong that they actually helped the FBI in their own arrest.
Meanwhile, the Capitol policeman who shot an unarmed woman to death has been honored rather than questioned. Sure she wasn't supposed to be climbing through a broken window. But apparently she wasn't the first person to do so, and that's not a capital crime.
There are many many questions about the whole thing and why it was treated with a whole different standard of justice than the riots the previous summer. Before accusing those in prison who maintain they are there unjustly, followers of Christ should ask these questions and insist on proof of the wrongdoing, lest we be told by Jesus someday, "I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me." Matthew 25:43

Tim MillerOlderMom

Perhaps one silver lining to this dark cloud will be an awareness of jail conditions and in an appreciation for equal justice under the law.

As far as Ashli Babbit, the Capitol police officer was certainly questioned before he was honored. There is always an investigation into police shootings. In this case, even you do not contradict that she was breaking into a secure location. The miracle is that more weren't shot, given their actions in beating police officers and pushing over barricades.


I wonder if one problem here is lumping everything together as "Jan. 6". There were legal demonstrations and an illegal, violent invasion of federal buildings. If we don't separate these events/situations, we will confuse people who were appropriately politically active by accusations against those who rioted, and we'll look like we are defending the riot when we defend the peaceful demonstrators. If as Christians we are defending the riot, though... that does not fit how I believe followers of Christ should conduct themselves in our relatively constructive self-government. I don't believe any World Opinion commentators are defending the riot on Jan. 6 itself. Is there any evidence to the contrary?

Tim MillerBruce

The political rally was based on a lie. The effort to overturn the election was based on a lie.

BruceTim Miller

I am not 100% confident that there was no real basis for disputing the election results, but I accept that it was not stolen. Regardless, there was a legal demonstration that day. Not all participated in the riot. I don't know enough to state numbers or percentages, but my point is that, regardless how much the purpose was based on error or misinformation, there was a legal demonstration on Jan. 6. We do our fellow citizens an injustice to lump all Jan. 6 activities together as if they were all indefensible and illegal. At least in regards to this bit of Christian rhetoric, I think the author and readers need to keep that in mind.

Tim MillerBruce

The election results were disputed. The dispute was litigated, as it should have been, and the courts ruled against Trump multiple times, as they should have.

I agree with you that not everything on January 6 was illegal and indefensible. I do not lump it all together, just as I don't lump all of BLM together.

not silent

It's helpful to acknowledge that there is very real reason for anger and frustration with Republicans. However, as has been said by the article and previous comment, that does NOT excuse behaving the same way in response.

We as believers are NOT supposed to live by "an eye for an eye," even if the world DOES live that way. How can we convince anyone we are different from the world if we don't SHOW it with our words and behavior? I agree that we had better worry about evil in our own house first and get the planks out of our own eyes first before we start pointing fingers at the world. (Note that I am not denying there IS evil in the world-just suggesting we would probably be more effective in standing against it as believers if we are not blinded and hobbled by our own sin.)

Alan Versaw

I don't disagree with anything Erick says here, but I'm not sure much of it should be said--at least not by a Christian. I'm hanging on by my toenails to my party registration as a Republican, but my most fundamental identity must always be as a Christian. My concern, then, is with how we as Christians behave. As a Christian, I can't find any justifiable reason to point fingers at others and say, "But, but, but..." To the extent that Donald Trump still enjoys support of professing believers, I am grieved. Period, full stop. If Donald Trump were to sincerely repent tomorrow, it would be a different story, but I still would not support him ever again holding an elected office (and I believe a sincere repentance would acknowledge that he has disqualified himself from same). That said, it's a purely hypothetical point, as Trump has doubled down on his troublesome persona and not repented. To the extent that professing believers point fingers to soften the criticisms of January 6, 2021, I am grieved. Judgment does, indeed, begin with the household of God. We had best be concerned about our own house, and not the houses of others.

bgAlan Versaw

AlanE, just to clarify, I hope your are saying... "As a Christian, I can't find any justifiable reason to point fingers at others and say..." their bad behavior justifies my bad behavior.

I think Erick's point is that what occurred on Jan 6, 2021 is deplorable and inexcusable, BUT as a nation seeking justice, and as believers seeking grace & truth, we can't look at a single event in history in isolation from all of history. It isn't pointing fingers, it is understanding context.

Alan Versawbg

bg, I understand your concerns. Part of the reason I responded to this article is that a more lengthy email on the same topic from Erick Erickson dropped into my inbox this morning. In that, Erickson wrote: "The truth is that no one should use the prior acts to mitigate or excuse what happened on January 6, but the reality is the people who stormed the United States Capitol on January 6th would have never crossed that Rubicon had the Democrats not already done so and done so repeatedly. All the trespassers on January 6th did was escalate a bit further after years of Democratic escalations that began with the Democrats’ handling of..."
Now, World may have seen the same script and demanded an editing for publication here. I don't know. Or Erick may have cast his words differently for different audiences. But the email and this article are pieces of the same cloth.
I appreciate Erick Erickson, but he's walking a very fine line here between what you describe as understanding context and what is known as whataboutism. In the end, Erickson says it's either all wrong or none of it's wrong. I concur with that, though the better Christian response is to say that many of us supported something that was wrong. Period. We lost faith that God could see us through this mess without us bowing the knee to Donald Trump. We don't need an explanation of why we did it that dodges the crucial point of we did it because we're sinful beings who grow impatient with waiting on God to deliver. The Democrats and the media didn't make anyone do it. Our own sinfulness made us do it.


Excellent column