Happiness

January 6 Was Just Practice for Trump and His Allies

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Former President Donald Trump’s antidemocratic campaign to overturn the 2020 election failed. Next time—and there will be a next time—American democracy might not be so lucky, our staff writer Barton Gellman argues in our latest cover story.

This isn’t the first time Bart has predicted such an attack on the democratic system: Six weeks before the last presidential election, he accurately anticipated, in detail, that then-President Trump would try to undermine the results. Now he reports that Trump and his allies are better prepared to do so in 2024. Here’s why.

They have the numbers.

The Big Lie has radicalized tens of millions of Americans—some to the point of violence. The former president “has built the first American mass political movement in the past century that is ready to fight by any means necessary, including bloodshed, for its cause,” Bart writes.

“This really is a new, politically violent mass movement,” Robert A. Pape, who studies such violence—including the January 6 attack—told Bart. Pape compared this period in America to the late 1960s in Northern Ireland, at the beginning of the Troubles.

And, this time, they may have the means.

“Republican acolytes have identified the weak points in our electoral apparatus and are methodically exploiting them,” Bart reports. They’ve rewritten election statutes to wrestle partisan control over ballot counts. They’ve aimed to fill key positions with more sympathetic allies. And they are organizing around a doctrine that could give states a legal basis to throw out votes and may prove appealing to the conservative-leaning Supreme Court.

Read our latest cover story.

Join Bart, along with staff writer Anne Applebaum and Atlantic editor in chief Jeffrey Goldberg, for a live virtual conversation about the threats to American democracy on December 13.


The news in three sentences:

(1) United States diplomats will boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing over the Uyghur genocide. (2) The U.S. is once again averaging more than 100,000 new cases of COVID-19 a day. (3) The Justice Department sued Texas over its new redistricting maps, arguing that they undermine the rights of Black and Latino voters.

Today’s Atlantic-approved activity:

Read sam sax’s poem “A Very Small Animal Entirely Surrounded by Water”:

the world was already [young | sick | lost] when we came to it

A break from the news:

Zoom fatigue, meet “déjà Zoom.”


Every weekday evening, our editors guide you through the biggest stories of the day, help you discover new ideas, and surprise you with moments of delight. Subscribe to get this delivered to your inbox.

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