American Carnage: The Familiar Fantasies Fueling Trump’s Mob Insurrection

American Carnage: The Familiar Fantasies Fueling Trump’s Mob Insurrection
Violent protesters loyal to President Donald Trump storm the Capitol, in Washington, Jan. 6, 2021 (AP photo by John Minchillo).

In the week since a mob of Donald Trump’s supporters stormed the Capitol in an effort to prevent Congress from certifying President-elect Joe Biden’s election victory, our picture of the day’s events has come into sharper focus. With every video and eye-witness account that appears, it becomes clearer that the attempt to subvert American democracy was far more violent than it initially seemed.

But huge gaps remain in our understanding of how that violent mob managed to penetrate what should have been a heavily guarded and secure site, especially given the threats that had been circulating online about plans to do exactly that. What we learn about the security lapses from last week, and whether or not they were the product of negligence, oversight or premeditation, will go a long way to determining whether what we witnessed was a coup, as Fiona Hill argues, or an insurrection, as Naunihal Singh maintains.

I initially leaned toward Singh’s framing, but it might make more sense now to speak of a slow-motion, “hiding in plain sight” coup attempt leading up to Wednesday, in which Trump tried to enlist institutional support to hold onto power. Upon realizing that this attempted coup would fail early Wednesday, he turned as a last resort to the mob and insurrection. If that insurrection enjoyed help from any security agencies, in the form of intentional lapses at the president’s urging, that assessment would obviously change.

Keep reading for free!

Get instant access to the rest of this article by submitting your email address below. You'll also get access to three articles of your choice each month and our free newsletter:

Or, Subscribe now to get full access.

Already a subscriber? Log in here .

What you’ll get with an All-Access subscription to World Politics Review:

A WPR subscription is like no other resource — it’s like having a personal curator and expert analyst of global affairs news. Subscribe now, and you’ll get:

  • Immediate and instant access to the full searchable library of tens of thousands of articles.
  • Daily articles with original analysis, written by leading topic experts, delivered to you every weekday.
  • Regular in-depth articles with deep dives into important issues and countries.
  • The Daily Review email, with our take on the day’s most important news, the latest WPR analysis, what’s on our radar, and more.
  • The Weekly Review email, with quick summaries of the week’s most important coverage, and what’s to come.
  • Completely ad-free reading.

And all of this is available to you when you subscribe today.