The 1962 novel (and blockbuster 1964 film), “Seven Days in May,” told the shocking story of an attempted American coup d’etat by a rightwing general. At the time it was considered fascinating but unlikely fiction. The idea that anyone in the American government — let alone a four star general — would attempt to overthrow that government seemed highly unlikely. It was fiction, but fascinating fiction all the same.
Over six separate days this month the American people will be treated to a live broadcast of the January 6 Committee. The Committee will interview people who either tried to overthrow the American government or witnessed the attempt.
It will entail a shocking unfolding of evidence that should, beyond a reasonable doubt, convince the viewers that serious efforts inside the government were made to overturn a lawfully constituted American election. It is going to be a spectacle of American television like nothing before.
Ordinary Americans will be serving as a kind of grand jury. The Committee will provide the evidence, but it is up to us and the Department of Justice to decide whether or not they have met their burden. Our verdict will carry no legal weight but will constitute a mountain of political pressure should we become overwhelmingly convinced of the guilt of the participants. It will be up to the Department of Justice to prosecute the wrongdoers.
At the conclusion of their business there can be little doubt that the Committee will recommend several names to the DOJ for prosecution. Among those names could very well be the former president of the United States. What will follow on from that will again be up to the DOJ.
As great a book (and movie) as “Seven Days in May” was, it had a rather disappointing ending for my money. Spoiler alert: the president accepts the resignations of three of the Joint Chiefs, and the rightwing general who plotted the coup climbs into his limo and goes home. I am sure for the time the idea of firing three Joint Chiefs was plenty shocking for the twentieth century. But for this twenty-first century coup I want more. And I think the American people want more as well. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.