**FILE** The protest on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol where domestic terrorists disguised as protesters sought to overthrow the government (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)
**FILE** The protest on Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol where domestic terrorists disguised as protesters sought to overthrow the government (Anthony Tilghman/The Washington Informer)

Currently, the Architect of the Capitol fulfills on average more than 100,000 flag requests from lawmakers annually. Therefore, it is not unusual for a member of Congress to request a flag that had flown over the U.S. Capitol and have it presented to constituents in honor of special occasions, patriotic service or memorials.

However, it is hard to fathom how a person who was arrested for storming the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and then sentenced to 60 days in prison be worthy of receiving a commemorative flag flown from the very building they previously attacked. Dr. Simone Gold is founder of America’s Frontline Doctors, a group that is known for touting unproven claims, disinformation and conspiracy theories during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The day before the Jan. 6 attack, Gold spoke at a “Stop the Steal” rally where she further promoted vaccine misinformation. The next day, she was part of a group of rioters who breached the U.S. Capitol, where she later spoke through a megaphone to fellow rioters gathered in Statuary Hall. Yet, upon her release from federal prison, Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert presented Gold with an honorary American flag recently flown above the U.S. Capitol. Gohmert claimed that Gold was “a political prisoner,” a term used by many supporters of former President Donald Trump to inaccurately describe the prosecution and incarceration of Jan. 6 defendants.

Dr. Simone Gold is an insurrectionist, and she is also a MAGA Republican. Gohmert is a MAGA Republican lawmaker who is more than happy to rally to the defense of those charged in connection with the insurrection. As we recognize the 21st anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our nation, we do so with the facts and truth about the Jan. 6 domestic attack being whitewashed before our very eyes.

According to an August NBC poll, “threats to democracy” has overtaken the cost of living, jobs and crime as the main issue facing American voters.

The 2022 midterm election is a pivotal moment which is why former President Barack Obama is not only appearing publicly with congressional and gubernatorial candidates but will also campaign in secretary of state races in key battleground states. When President Biden gave his “battle for the soul of the nation” address in prime time, it was long overdue. During his critical speech, not only did the president make clear that equality and democracy are under assault, he clearly identified Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans as the ones representing an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our republic.

The speech was an all-hands-on-deck call for reengagement and the need to vote.

“I am an American president — not the president of red America or blue America, but of all America.” Biden said. He continued, “And I believe it is my duty — my duty to level with you, to tell the truth no matter how difficult, no matter how painful. And here, in my view, is what is true: MAGA Republicans do not respect the Constitution. They do not believe in the rule of law. They do not recognize the will of the people. They refuse to accept the results of a free election. And they’re working right now, as I speak, in state after state to give power to decide elections in America to partisans and cronies, empowering election deniers to undermine democracy itself. They look at the mob that stormed the United States Capitol on January 6 – brutally attacking law enforcement — not as insurrectionist who placed a dagger to the throats of our democracy, but they look at them as patriots.”

Biden called for Democrats, independents and mainstream Republicans to unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of ideology. Getting persuadable Republicans to vote for Democrats in congressional, gubernatorial and secretary of state races for the sake of saving democracy will not be easy in every race. The same is true with Black voters. And while Black women are the most loyal and dependable block of Democratic voters, will Black men join this critical coalition in sufficient numbers? Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams said, “If Black men vote for me, I will win Georgia.”

The most recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows that Abrams has significant ground to make up among Black voters, particularly Black men. Incumbent Republican Gov. Brian Kemp currently has a five-point lead over Abrams. Key metrics are showing Abrams with 90% of the Black female vote but just 80% of the Black male vote, with another 10% undecided. While Republicans typically receive about 10% of the Black vote, experts say Democratic candidates cannot afford to slip far below 90% of the Black vote overall and still expect to win.

With Black men voting for Donald Trump in double digits in 2020, it shows that Black people are not monolithic. During past elections, a Republican may have specific reasons why they could not vote for a Democrat. The same is true about a male voter having reasons for not supporting a female candidate or a white voter not supporting a Black candidate. Regardless of their reasons, these are not normal times.

As a result, President Biden rightfully exposed MAGA Republicans as a true threat. But his speech was not meant to correct Republicans who embrace the redefining of history and patriotism. That would be a lost cause for most people. It was meant to remind us that individuals like Dr. Simone Gold and Rep. Louie Gohmert exist while being dangerous. It was directed to all of those who not only understand how we got to this point, but will look past our differences in seeing the urgency of using the vote as a weapon to contain the real threat. As individuals, we have to ask ourselves what is more important, current democracy or future fascism.

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