Former D.C. Metropolitan Police Officer Michael Fanone believes the 2024 election will be the most consequential of his lifetime.
“The future of our democracy is at stake,” he told HuffPost this week, when asked what he’d like to say to voters. “Ultimately, you, the American voter, will be the last line of defense when it comes to preserving democracy as we know it and ensuring the peaceful transfer of power. And it’s that serious.”
“I’ve been of voting age for many, many years, and every year it seems that we’re told by politicians that this election is ‘unlike any other,’” he continued. “But I’m nobody, just some average American, and I’m telling you that this election is like no other.”
Fanone, who sustained a heart attack and traumatic brain injury after he was beaten and electroshocked by supporters of then-President Donald Trump on Jan. 6, 2021, spoke to HuffPost ahead of the third anniversary of the Capitol riot.
He said that in a lot of ways, he’s come to terms with his experience that day, and resolved much of his trauma. But he’s infuriated by Republicans’ ongoing whitewashing and lies about what took place.
“Imagine the most traumatic, or a traumatic event in your life, that reaches the level of attention that January 6 garnered,” he said. “I mean, it was an international story. And spending three years trying to convince people that it actually fucking happened.”
“It’s frustrating,” he said. “It’s angering. It’s perplexing.”
A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll released this week found that in the years since a December 2021 survey, the number of Republicans who believed President Joe Biden’s election was legitimate had dropped from 39% to 31%.
It also showed Republicans becoming less likely to believe that Jan. 6 rioters were mostly violent, and more likely to absolve Trump of responsibility for the attack.
Fanone told HuffPost that lies “are the source of Donald Trump’s stranglehold over his supporters.”
“Without those lies, I think that you would start to see his support erode,” he said. “But there’s the whole idea that the election, the 2020 election was stolen, not just from Trump, as he says, but from his voters. That really is the source of his power.”
Trump is by far the front-runner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. But even if he weren’t, Fanone said he would have “a very difficult time” voting for any Republican candidate, “unless the party itself is willing to acknowledge the role that it played” in making the Capitol attack possible and subsequently whitewashing it.
Fanone said he voted for Trump in 2016, but now believes that “Republicans have become the party of insurrection.”
In Fanone’s view, Trump’s Republican rivals have largely hesitated to speak out against the quadruply indicted former president because they’re afraid of him and his political power.
“I think it’s disgraceful,” Fanone said. “I think that any of those candidates who are unwilling to call out Donald Trump and MAGA for what it is don’t deserve to run for office.”
Facing 91 felony counts, including two indictments connected to his attempt to overturn the 2020 election, Trump has only intensified his election fraud lies, and has lain the groundwork to contest this year’s results should he lose.
He has also leaned increasingly into authoritarian rhetoric and reportedly plans to implement an even more extreme agenda should he win a second term, including by using the Justice Department to exact revenge on political opponents.
Fanone said his own priorities boil down to protecting democracy in 2024.
“For me, the single most important issue is democracy,” he said. “And I see President Joe Biden as our best defender of democracy.”
He said he doesn’t have much planned to mark the date on Saturday.
“I don’t think about my experience on January 6 on the anniversaries,” he said. “I just think about where we are as a country and how far we have to go.”