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ND Political Expert: One Year Later, Jan. 6 Events Still a Concern


Tuesday, January 4, 2022   

It has been a year since the attack on the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump.

Despite many arrests and a Congressional investigation, a North Dakota political expert feels the lingering effects are not fully realized. The first anniversary of the attack is this Thursday.

Mark Jendrysik, political science professor at the University of North Dakota, said with fresh polls surrounding the events showing partisan splits, it is reasonable to think a portion of the American public does not fully grasp the effect on democracy.

"I think there's a large number of people who have basically treated it like 'no big deal,' and that frightens me," Jendrysik stated. "Because it's the absolute worst political thing to happen to this country in my lifetime."

In an ABC News/Ipsos poll, a majority of respondents indicated the attack was a threat against the election process, but more than half of Republicans say those involved were protecting democracy.

Jendrysik said the divide underscores efforts in GOP-led states to adopt voting restrictions. There are fears some proposed changes would give states power to reject votes based on outcomes. Backers of the efforts say they are trying to restore faith in elections.

But Jendrysik countered any politician who downplays the attack or suggests the country move on without a proper response is arguing in bad faith. He asserted it speaks to the "team sport" nature of politics with party members consistently opting for loyalty, even when events such as Jan. 6 transpire.

"You should never believe that your political opponents are your enemies, that they're evil," Jendrysik cautioned. "Because that leads down a very dangerous path."

He noted the path gets started in places such as state legislatures, when one party is in power for too long. In North Dakota's case, Republicans have built overwhelming majorities. Jendrysik added not worrying about losing power can result in elected officials who are not there for the right reasons.

"I think they're more into it for public attention than they are for the really hard, difficult work of running a free society," Jendrysik contended.

Support for this reporting was provided by The Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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