Thoughts & Essays

On the First Anniversary of an Attempted Coup

I’ve seen plenty of car accidents in my time. Some of them have happened so fast and with so little warning that they were shocking to see, but since I grew up in Michigan, where we have snowy, icy winters, more than a few of them have happened slowly, with plenty of warning and a dull sense of inevitability.

Usually there’s a moment where you spot the doomed car and go, “Uh-oh.” You see the car’s tires spinning out, or watch it sliding or fishtailing just a teeny bit, and you immediately know that you’re watching someone who doesn’t know how to drive in bad weather. You see someone driving a hair too fast, braking a smidge too late… some little warning note.

Sure enough, a mile or two later, the accident happens. They try to turn out of a skid instead of into it, they don’t give themselves enough time to brake, they jerk the wheel when their car slides, something. Then the car is sliding, or spinning in the road. A few moments later comes the big crunch, as they smack into another car or a tree or a light pole, or the sudden flying of snow as they barrel into a snow bank or slide into a ditch.

You’re always shocked at the impact, at least a little, because it’s a big event with lots of drama, but you’re never really surprised, because you saw it coming two, three miles ago.

And that was the attempted coup on Jan. 6, 2021. Anyone who was paying attention saw the nation fishtailing a bit on the turn, saw it sliding a bit past the line at the stop, saw it twitch as it jerked the wheel on a skid. When Trump’s rally started on the morning of the 6th we all saw the nation lock its brakes and start into the spin. When hordes of delusional fools were breaking windows and rifling through Congressional desks while carrying guns and zip ties we were all shocked to see the impact…

But no one was surprised. Or at least, they shouldn’t have been. There was plenty of warning, and that dull sense of inevitability.

If you want to extend the metaphor a bit further, we’ve spent the last year or so waiting for Congress to plow and salt the roads so this doesn’t happen again, but they have not. And now we sit here on Jan. 6, 2022, a year after a failed coup instigated by the then-sitting President of the United States, and not a damn thing has been done to prevent the next coup.

In fact, an argument can be made that the coup never ended. It’s ongoing. The GOP, particularly in the states, has worked hard to ensure they’ll be able to steal the 2024 election, in which Trump will surely run. The GOP has instituted new voting laws and regulations to make voting harder wherever they can, and installed their cronies as elections officials so they can be sure they’ll have friends in high places when it comes time to subvert the next election.

You’re watching the tires slip right now, folks. But see, the thing is that with a car accident, once it starts there’s not really much you can do but drop back on the road and try to make sure you’re not involved. You have more options with a government. We could be working right now to make sure another attempt doesn’t happen. We can make sure, right now, that our elections integrity holds.

There are elections this year. We must hold Congress. I know the Democrats aren’t worth a damn. Vote for better Democrats and progressives where you can. Where you can’t, at least try to vote for more. If we send enough Dems and progressives to Congress, we can strip Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema of their power, and maybe, finally get something done. If we hold the House, we can maybe, finally, get something done.

If we don’t… Well, brace for the impact, I guess. And don’t be surprised when it happens.