Some of the most stunning images I can recall from September 11, 2001, are ones where we see Vice President Dick Cheney and First Lady Laura Bush among others in the bowels of the White House. They’d been whisked down to the Emergency Operations Center for their safety as the terrorist events unfolded.

It never occurred to me that I should be concerned whether they were Republican or Democrat. All I saw was my government in a defensive crouch, mulling the vulnerabilities of our national security while heavily guarded Air Force One kept President George W. Bush out of harm’s way.

The American in me emerged. Past partisan disagreement was easily put aside in the face of crisis.

This is what we’ve lost in our country, as made painfully clear yet again by the response to the House Select Committee’s final public hearing regarding the events of January 6, 2021.

So often when we (yes, including me) speak of MAGA as a homogenized group, we think about the thugs. The armed, vested, frothing mostly white guys who stand at the ready to inflict harm on the order of former president Donald Trump. The people who are willing to fashion flag poles into spears, bust windows, destroy furniture, and defecate in our Capitol building. The people who are currently on trial or already convicted of crimes committed on that vile day.

What we don’t tend to think about are the – dare we say – majority of folks who comprise MAGA: our neighbors, our co-workers, our family members. We know them to be a variety of things — hardworking employees, doting parents, responsible gun owners, church goers, loyal spouses. All in all, we know them as good people, some of this based on years of entrenched relationships.

Which is why we don’t know what to do with this unhinged devotion to one man by these very same people. For many of us, we have respected these folks our whole lives. Heck, I can name a few people who I spent most of my adult life thinking were way smarter than me. This has rocked me at a core level, making me wonder how off my judgment has been on a whole host of things since, seriously, how smart can you be if you’re all in on a proven grifter?

This is not about differing opinions. I’m tired of that knee-jerk reaction to what I’m saying. It is not my opinion that Trump allegedly incited this insurrection based on a random feeling; the evidence is overwhelming. Not flimsy or circumstantial evidence, by the way, but heavily reported and backed up by documents, video, his own social media posts, and testimony from mostly Republicans who once supported him. Not to mention some of the top legal minds in our country.

We’re way past opinion. My concern is not about basic disagreement. It’s about the incremental undermining of facts to the point where flat-out proof is being mocked and written off as a hoax or witch hunt. Those same haunting terms from some of the worst moments in our history, once again backed by not a single truth.

While watching the recent horrifying Ken Burns’ documentary, The U.S. and the Holocaust, and how the slow drip of cruelty and misinformation led to the unthinkable slaughter of so many Jews, I had a pain in my stomach. Because we are doing the equivalent of sending humans to ovens right now? No, I’m not suggesting that. But the parallels to watching our fellow humans buy into one person’s deranged ideas? Oh, we’re there.

What is there to defend? It has been proven that Trump knew he lost the 2020 election, that he planned well before Election Day to claim victory and find a way to stay, that he encouraged the violence-in-waiting out in the open, that virtually every advisor around him told him he had to accept defeat, that he lost over 60 court cases, that his Department of Justice found no wrongdoing in any of the states he claimed cheated, that he asked Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger (a Trump supporter, no less) to “find” the votes he needed.

Must I go on?

Please explain it to me in a normal, clear way instead of hiding behind a computer and typing “Let’s Go Brandon” like some kind of middle school adolescent.

I had an opinion about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s culpability in what went down in Benghazi, but I still took the time to watch hours of Congressional hearings to see her grilled and what evidence I may have missed. There were so many cries of partisanship during Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation into Trump that I made sure to read The Mueller Report to see what he and his staff actually found so my commentary on it wasn’t hollow.

What I’m seeing now is the House committee putting findings from hundreds of thousands of pages and hours of testimony in digestible form and MAGA not bothering to watch. Go to the comments on an article about this latest hearing (or don’t, I saved you the pain). It’s clear the average MAGA citizen hasn’t watched or read. They just come out in force to hit a laugh emoji or type in “witch hunt.”  I haven’t been able to find one single intelligent argument to counter anything the House committee has unearthed in painstaking fashion.

The entirety of the MAGA argument is to shout down all the fact finders. And I’m not even talking about the whipped up, red-white-and-blue-clad weirdos who go to his rallies or the aforementioned thugs. There’s another swath of Americans keeping this guy dominant in a major political party. They’re delivering your mail, ringing up your order, heading up your company’s human resources department, sitting across from you at Thanksgiving dinner, lying next to you in your bed.

They have been swept in to this inexplicable madness and you will never understand how in hell it happened.