Nearly 4,000 Americans died of COVID-19 on January 6th, a new record that was all but completely ignored as our horrified gaze was averted by an even larger number of Americans laying siege to their own United States Capitol, egged on by none other than the president himself. In the week since, as the president has been banned from social media and grudgingly condemned the riot while refusing to accept responsibility for it, as cabinet members have resigned, as right-wing pundits have downplayed the event or painted it as a false flag, as the vice president has rebuffed calls for the invocation of the 25th Amendment, as the House has begun impeachment proceedings for the second time, and as not one relevant department of the federal government has substantively addressed the nation, I’ve been marinating in the most potent dose yet of an emotion that has defined the last four years: shock without surprise.
Some of the insurrectionists were neo-Nazis. Some represented more obscure white supremacist groups. Some were members of nationalist militias. Some were deranged cultists steadfast in their belief that the Democratic elite worships Satan and drinks the blood of children. Some were seemingly ordinary people who didn’t have anything to do with any of that stuff. All of them were apparently united in being misled by the biggest lie yet told by the most prolific liar in the country’s political history. The lie, which is easily disproven, is said to be believed by a majority of registered Republicans, and has been parroted ad infinitum for the last two months by the 147 Congressional Republicans who ultimately objected to the Electoral College vote certification, leaving the rest of us to guess which of them are evil and which of them are merely stupid. Anyway, all told, an awful lot of people are convinced, in the absence of any compelling evidence, that the incoming president is illegitimate.
Now that the outgoing president’s mob has put a huge crack in the dam of American democracy, the mass delusion he fomented will, with the help of decades of toxic NRA propaganda, undoubtedly be interpreted as sufficient pretext for more organized and more heavily armed insurrection attempts at both the state and federal levels. And apparently enough active-duty military are on board that their leaders felt it necessary to issue an official reminder that their job is to defend the Constitution, not violently overthrow a democratically elected government.
Yesterday’s COVID-19 deaths set another new record of 4,400. This country is in real trouble.