Trump is “a dangerous person who should not continue in office…this is an emergency of the highest order.” — Nancy Pelosi

“Orchestrating a mob to pressure Congress is inexcusable.” – Bill Barr (see shocked face). Trump’s recent prepositioning of his people in the Pentagon does seem to explain the possibility of an attempt to declare martial law, signaled by yesterday’s incitement to an insurrectionary riot. Getting distance from a POTUS* self-pardon by the former AG is only part of the revisionist history tour for 2021.


“will you walk with me to the Capitol?”

As I write this a few hours later, rioters incited by President Donald Trump have stormed the Capitol building. Both the House and the Senate have suspended their counting because of security threats. Reportedly, shots have been fired. A photograph of a rioter occupying the House speaker’s chair shows that the Capitol is, essentially, being occupied. C-SPAN is reporting that senior members of leadership of the legislative branch are being held in an “undisclosed location.” Reporters are refusing to divulge their locations on the grounds—entirely reasonable—that doing so could endanger their safety. The National Guard has been deployed.

It’s undeniable at this point. The United States is witnessing a coup attempt—a forceful effort to seize power against the legal framework. The president has caused the interruption of the process that would certify his removal from office. The mechanics of constitutional government have been suspended. Americans are in danger of losing constitutional government to a degree unmatched even during the Civil War, a period when secession itself did not postpone either the holding of elections or the transition of power between presidents.

The moment we face as Americans, in other words, compares more closely to the August 1991 coup that attempted to remove President Mikhail Gorbachev from the head of the Soviet Union or the 1993 armed standoff between Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the Russian legislature.

Yet right up until this moment a chorus of voices was telling us not to worry.

The past several years have been a boom industry for political scientists who work on topics like coups and democratic erosion, including several of the experts quoted in the Post piece. As the United States has entered seemingly uncharted democratic waters, journalists and readers alike have decided that standard horse-race journalism is not up to the task of interpreting politics.

As tensions have risen, however, there has been a profound divide between those who believed that, in the end, institutions would save us—that the United States’ democratic traditions would be preserved—and those who were clear that we faced a period that could end with a standoff of this magnitude.…

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