Let’s be clear about what happened in Washington, D.C., yesterday: It was an attempted coup d’état, an appalling end to four years of rule by a deranged demagogue whose disconnection from reality has so poisoned millions of Americans that some of them, motivated by his fever dreams of a stolen election, resorted to violence.
There’s a lot of blame to go around, and, of course, we must put the brunt of it squarely where it belongs: on the shoulders of President Donald Trump, who prodded protestors to come to the nation’s capital for a “wild” time and spoon-fed them fantasies of how they could overturn the election. The result was a calculated, violent effort to disrupt what is normally a ceremonial vote to begin a transfer of power.
Trump will bear the judgment of history for his actions, but his enablers are not off the hook, not by a long shot. The leaders of various far-right groups, including Christian nationalist organizations, knew Trump lost the election on Nov. 3. If they had told him that, if they had reached out to President-elect Joe Biden and acknowledged his clear win, if they had challenged Trump’s stream of lies, things might have turned out differently.
They didn’t do that. Instead, they poured gasoline on the fires that fuel Trump’s unhinged visions. They told him that he really won. They fed his delusions. And in doing so, they betrayed democracy and enabled yesterday’s display of domestic terrorism.
Yet they continue to pose as patriots. They continue to pose as defenders of the democracy that yesterday they tried to tear down. They continue to say that they love a country that they’ve spent weeks since Nov. 3 plotting to destroy.
Yesterday they showed us exactly what they think of this country and its institutions. When all of this is over, there will be no going back to business as usual. Everyone who had a hand in this disgraceful chapter must be held accountable by the law, by public opinion and by the rules of simple morality.