On Topic: What do young people think about the January 6 Commission?

Front view of the Capitol Riot during Jan. 6

This discussion features three Bridge members from around the country and was hosted on Discord. To protect the privacy of our members, we’ve used only their first initial, Chapter location, and age as identifiers.

The January 6 commission is an outside, independent commission similar to the one after 9/11, created to investigate and report on the events of January 6, 2021. The proposed legislation passed in the U.S. House 252-175, with 35 Republicans joining Democrats in support of the plan. However, it came to a standstill after a series of votes and a filibuster by Senate Republicans prevented the legislation from moving forward.

We asked some of our members their thoughts on the events from January 6 and the creation of such a commission.

Read the discussion below:

Question: What are your current thoughts on the Storming of the Capitol months later? What do you think of a Commission to investigate the event?

J, Kansas, 21: “The capital riots showed how a year of hyperpolarized, isolated and toxic culture had so much power on the election. I definitely think there should be some consideration for a commission, even if the results and actions start off minimally.”

A, New York, 24: “The riots were symbolic of how much we have let our institutions decay. It’s a reflection of how much we have become accustomed to our polarized, broken politics. The Riot was a premeditated terrorist attack. I think it should not have come as a surprise to anyone given the quality of not only the public discourse, but also the perceived lack of institutional bipartisanship. A Jan. 6 Commission is needed to comprehensively investigate the origin of the riots.”

R, Virginia, 20: “The capitol riots were the boiling point and explosion of long seething tensions, hatred, divisions and polarization of our broken political system. We already have investigations happening, a commission seems hyper symbolic and political in nature. I’m not super opposed to a commission, but it shouldn’t be the top priority.” 

Question: Do you think it’s important to still look into what happened, even though the publicly accepted understanding is that it was an insurrection due to the election?

R: “Should the rioters be found, tried, and penalized? Absolutely. We already are doing a pretty good job at that, and can do better by diverting more time and effort toward our Intel departments to get that job done instead of a Senate committee that seems more decorum and partisan than actually helpful. I’m not super opposed to a commission, but it shouldn’t be the top priority which it feels like it is.”

A: “I think I disagree that the committee would be partisan. The method of choosing members of the committee was negotiated by one Democrat and one Republican, and I think it would include the same number of representatives from each party.” 

R: “The notion of said committee seems partisan in nature, as it’s just a way for Dems to gain political prowess over Republicans, which the Republicans did to themselves already. I just feel like it’s a waste of time and would be conducted in bad faith.”

J: “I would agree with that point. Most of the work is being done to understand anything beyond the known efforts of the event. A commission might be helpful for making a small statement, but also the current committee building work is not working out to be bipartisan.” 

R: “That is a good point about the makeup of the committee. But the fact that only Dems mostly are pushing for one and Republicans are against it mostly shows this committee would be political and broken in nature.”

J: “There might be a chance for making this a moment to reflect and provide a foundation for understanding – if the commission was driven by understanding the political culture throughout the U.S., divided as two parties (by vote, not culture or identity), we might be able to get somewhere.” 

On The Make-Up Of the Committee

A: “The reason I feel so strongly about implementing the commission is my fear that regardless of the intel report, whichever party that perceives it as politically damaging will simply try to discredit it as partisan. I think that the only way to insulate an investigation from that is to explicitly give both Dems and Republicans equal amounts of control.”

R: “I am not aware of the proceedings to select a committee. I know you said it would be equal senators of Republicans and Democrats. Is that 100% for sure if the commission went through like it was in the legislation?” 

A: “‘The proposed commission was modeled on the one established to investigate the 9/11 terror attacks, with 10 commissioners — five Democrats and five Republicans — who would have subpoena powers. A Democratic chair and Republican vice chair would have had to approve all subpoenas with a final report due at the end of the year. (Source: NPR).’”

R: “Love the source. Wouldn’t the report be watered down, though? If I’m a Republican senator,  I realize that this is political suicide, and would do all I can to make this seem as minuscule as possible the minute I get the Senate majority. If I’m a Democrat senator, I’m looking at this as an opportunity to serve justice and totally pummel my opponent. So, it’s so hard because all of these factors come into play.”

J: “Yeah. How probably would a committee like this actually come into place? I feel the events of the Jan. 6 commission vote in the Senate showed some true colors and thoughts on actually spending time on this.”

R: “And you get a report that is more political than truthful in nature, and also doesn’t really add much.”

J: “That seems scary in practice, and on paper.” 

R: “I would much rather have the Senate establish a commission of intel, or something else, to do this, and have equal subpoena powers for updates. I just don’t like the idea of the Senate or House doing this, and they have much more important aspects to focus on.”

Question: Do you think a commission would prevent another event like Jan. 6 from happening in the future?

J: “No, I like to think that culture will dictate policy, and will only take time for policy to dictate culture.” 

A: “I think that a commission could have second-degree outcomes that reduced the likelihood of a repeat; however, a report alone would certainly not prevent this from reoccurring. Withholding certain information from the public (as the intel report will) allows politicians to act only on public knowledge rather than on all the facts available to them. If that information was universally accessible, the legislative and executive branches would be under more pressure to address the report directly. ‘Virginia’ makes a good point that it would require a huge amount of trust to generate a report that earned the trust of both sides of the aisle.”

R: “On the flip side, wouldn’t the public be more incentivized to want all of the report? So they would pressure their representatives and senators to subpoena, and vote people out who are being shady and opportunistic. That’s putting a lot more faith in the public. I would rather have faith in the public than in our politicians. Especially with social media, it’s easier to push for movements and transparency.”

J: “Yes, of course.”

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on the BridgeUSA blog are not representative of the organization as whole, but of the individual BridgeUSA members having these discussions. They practice values of empathy and understanding, championed by BridgeUSA, to engage in these discussions.

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