I feel a little awkward writing such an alarmist headline. But the facts on the ground justify the alarm. I’m reminded of William Lloyd Garrison:
I am aware that many object to the severity of my language; but is there not cause for severity? I will be as harsh as truth, and as uncompromising as justice. On this subject, I do not wish to think, or to speak, or write, with moderation. No! no! Tell a man whose house is on fire to give a moderate alarm; tell him to moderately rescue his wife from the hands of the ravisher; tell the mother to gradually extricate her babe from the fire into which it has fallen; — but urge me not to use moderation in a cause like the present.
There is a temptation to dismiss Trump as a buffoon and his followers’ rhetoric as just so much shit-posting on the Internet. But, there they were on January 6th, killing a police officer, carrying zip ties, bent on mayhem, en route to block certification of electoral votes duly cast after a free and fair election. Despite no evidence of irregularities that would have come anywhere close to altering the election results, and despite losing dozens of legal challenges on the subject, Trump urged them on and they followed – seeking to keep Trump as President despite Joe Biden’s having been elected to the office.
The Associated Press documents what was apparent at the time: “The insurrectionist mob that showed up at the president’s behest and stormed the U.S. Capitol was overwhelmingly made up of longtime Trump supporters, including Republican Party officials, GOP political donors, far-right militants, white supremacists, members of the military and adherents of the QAnon myth that the government is secretly controlled by a cabal of Satan-worshiping pedophile cannibals.” Unsurprisingly, Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) was lying when he tried to say that this attack came from somewhere other than Trump supporters. These people called for the execution of Mike Pence. These Trump supporting conspiracy theorists made death threats against Nancy Pelosi. They brought assault rifles, homemade napalm, and pipe bombs. Per the AP:
“Fight like hell,” Trump exhorted his partisans at the staging rally. “Let’s have trial by combat,” implored his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, whose attempt to throw out election results in trial by courtroom failed. It’s time to “start taking down names and kicking ass,” said Republican Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama.
Unsurprisingly, participants in this mob have created an internal narrative where they are the heroes of the story: important people in unique times, acting violently against cartoon-level evil. These are not emotionally mature people, willing to live humbly for a cause in a vast universe of which they are very small pieces. Rather than abide by the often unsatisfactory outcomes of the democratic process, Trump urged them to embrace the more emotionally pleasing notion that only a shadowy kind of supervillainy could have short-circuited their righteous cause and that it was a moral imperative that they violently impose their preferences on the country. Not only was their tantrum permitted — it was imperative!
These are people who get their guidance from the likes of Trump, Alex Jones, QAnon boards, Roger Stone, and others who feed the masses garbage for fun, profit, power, prestige, and to own the libs. It’s all fun and games until people die and our democratic institutions are threatened. I think we’re there.