At least until this past week, it was still reasonable to dream that a president elected as a unifier could bring the left and the right in America a bit closer together by asking each recognize a measure of sincerity and goodwill in the other over the last 15 months or so. Here is the story President Biden should have told the American people on the recent January 6 anniversary of the Capitol invasion.

(1) Social leaders and generous donors used new and very effective methods, including changes in law and legal behavior, to achieve record numbers of voter participation by Democrats on November 3, 2020, especially of low income, inner city Democratic minorities.

(2) When President Trump saw that he had clearly lost the vote, but did not yet fully grasp the power of the new methods mentioned above, he and many others honestly concluded that there must surely have been election day fraud — asking, for example, how could more inner-city minority people have voted for Biden than voted for Obama?

(3) Assessing his “authoritative” presidential statements and his arguments as making sense, millions of Republican voters were outraged and tens or hundreds of thousands of them headed to Washington on January 6, 2021, to “stop the steal.”

(4) Some perhaps egged on by a few radicals, and some perhaps on the spur of the moment, a small minority of those persons judged that breaking trespass laws and the like was less important than saving the nation from what they honestly believed was a stolen election, so they forced their way into the Capitol — using only the tools they had at hand. All without firearms, as far as we know, most tried by their simple presence to stop what to them was the certification of a fraudulent election.

(5) Democrats, finding the allegations of a stolen election utterly implausible in the light of no direct evidence of fraud, were outraged. Looking at the objective facts and having no other good explanation for the Capitol invasion, they called it, with reason, an “insurrection”.

(6) On February 15, 2021,Time magazine (in “The Secret History of the Shadow Campaign that Saved the 2020 Election”) revealed the new electoral methods mentioned in number (1) above and their extraordinary effectiveness, thus making the election day result plausible and any claims of voter fraud far less plausible.

(7) Multiple detailed investigations in various states confirmed the lack of any widespread or significant amount of election day fraud.

(8) A year later, FBI investigations of the January 6 events have discovered not a single person worth charging with insurrection (or sedition).

(9) Revelations (6) and (7) above should long ago have caused the former president and his followers to back off of any claim of election day fraud.

(10) Likewise, revelations (6) and (8) above should have caused Democrats to back off the “insurrection” narrative when referring to those brave folks who thought they were saving the nation from an illegal election.

But neither side has admitted any mistakes. Instead, the former president is still bent on pushing a claim of electoral fraud that any reasonable person would know beyond a reasonable doubt to be false, gravely endangering both his party and the nation.

And instead of pointing to a degree of goodwill (and of misunderstanding) among the folks on both sides, and calling for a reflective truce on the anniversary of the Capitol invasion, President Biden has doubled down on a false and demonizing caricature of the invaders, saying, “Those who stormed this Capitol . . . held a dagger at the throat of America and American democracy. They didn’t come here out of patriotism or principle. ” (New York Times Biden’s Speech on the Jan. 6 Riot, Annotated)


Richard Stith is a professor emeritus of law at Valparaiso University. He is active in the Consistent Life Network, although the positions taken in his essays are not necessarily those of the CLN or its...