"Aside from the violent insurrection, what happened on January 6 was introducing the notion of essentially a congressional veto on the people's vote for president," Chris Hayes said to Stuart Stevens during a very intense conversation.
May 6, 2021

Very interesting and depressing conversation last night between Chris Hayes and former GOP operative Stuart Stevens.

Hayes was talking about how even though Trump is out of power, Republicans are still debasing themselves to curry favor with him.

"It's making grown individuals act in a way that would be embarrassing in normal circumstances. Like Kevin McCarthy," he said.

"I mean, we assume that Kevin McCarthy has shame. I think that's giving him the benefit of the doubt," Stevens said.

"I think Kevin McCarthy is quite happy. I don't think he feels debased. He feels power. These are people that are different than us. They are people who have decided that they are defined by power. Power to no purpose. It's a very dangerous reality," he said.

"Look, we've have seen this before in America. In the '30s, there was a fascist movement in America. We didn't become fascist. Why? Probably because Roosevelt was president and not Henry Ford, or Lindbergh. So we elected someone who does not believe in American norms, who has strong autocratic tendencies, and what we've discovered is what we used to study in civics, and we still do, which is that leadership matters.

"When you say it's okay to embrace the worst part of yourself, the self that doesn't want to admit the other side won, you are on the road to autocracy. That's the threat out there," Stevens said.

"Democracy doesn't work if you're for democracy when you win, and you're not for it when you lose."

Hayes said he was glad Steven brought that up. "Something I think has gone somewhat unremarked on is that something really dangerous -- aside from the violent insurrection, happened on January 6, was introducing the notion of essentially a congressional veto on the people's vote for president. Right?

"Like, this idea that you got this big thing on January 6th, which was seen as pro forma. They're just there to move the paper around and make it official. The idea that, well, maybe you lose the presidential election, you lose, but if you hold both Houses, and you can whip the votes, who knows? That is a genuine fear of mine that now looms. To me, the Liz Cheney thing is a microcosm of that bigger fight," Hayes said.

"You're absolutely right, and we shouldn't kid ourselves. This is the plan. The plan is to be able to take the House in 2022, go about impeaching Harris, probably Biden," Stevens said.

"When you have something that happened as it did on January 6th, and it goes unpunished, it becomes a practice. And what happened when those Republican senators voted not to hold Trump responsible is, I think will be recorded as the equivalent of the Munich Accord of our time. It is when you're going to attempt to appease something that you know is evil to gain power and to gain this. Now, Chamberlain was a much more noble figure than anyone involved in this Senate. at least he was anti-war in a very legitimate way -- with dreadful consequences.

"This is -- we should not grant them the privilege of assuming they will revert to normalcy. This is normal to them. This is what they want. They do not want to believe in a system in which they can lose. Look, when you read books like 'How Democracies Die' by two Harvard professors or 'Twilight Of Democracy," by Anne Applebaum, it makes it clear most modern democracies die, not because of tanks and coups. It's not like an end day in Chile. It's more like Ormond. The Philippines had a beautiful constitutional model, like the American constitution. Marcos trampled all over it.

"It's through the ballot box and through judicial fiat that democracies die, and that really is where we're about now. And I can't tell you which side is going to win. I mean, I would like to say, of course, people are going to lose. But we have kind of done that. We have proven wrong. I think we have to assume that we are really in a battle for democracy."

Yes, we are. And it's why we have to start organizing yesterday to win everything in 2022. And it's why we need a January 6th commission, to name names and punish the guilty.

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