American Democracy Will Survive Trump’s Failed Insurrection

If the events in Washington, D.C., yesterday demonstrate one thing, it is this: Words have power. Donald Trump used them to incite a mob, and that mob then attacked the U.S. Capitol building to disrupt the congressional certification of the presidential election results taking place there. That incitement by Trump—and the speakers who preceded and followed him at a rally of his supporters earlier yesterday—was not even veiled.

It followed months now of similar incitement, a concerted campaign of lies and fabulations that sought to replace the reality of Trump’s defeat with feverish fantasies of stolen victory. As those fantasies took hold among Trump’s political base, the initial awkward discomfort felt by Trump’s Republican enablers in Congress gradually shifted. What began as arms-reach indulgence of Trump’s fragile, narcissistic ego soon became a wholehearted embrace of his attempt to overturn the will of the American people and the laws that govern their elections.

What happened yesterday represents the sad, predictable outcome of that campaign. Because words have power, it is important to put the proper name to it: insurrection. More precisely, and importantly, it is Trump’s insurrection, as he is responsible for fomenting and directing it.

But because words have power, it is also important, in taking the proper measure of what took place yesterday, not to give those events more meaning and power than they deserve. A mob storming the Capitol is shocking and, for most Americans, deeply embarrassing.

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