Brief Thoughts on the Coup
Unedited, raw, rough draft thoughts on the meaning of Trump’s attempted coup
There’s definitely a point to be made that the anti-democratic violence we all saw yesterday in D.C. is extremely mild compared to the coups, invasions, and regime changes that the U.S. government has exported all over the world. And there’s certainly a level of hypocrisy on display watching so many of the people behind these evil exports pontificate about how atrocious Trump’s attempted coup was.
Both of those points are correct, and this whole fiasco should 100% cause us to learn about and reassess our country’s violent and anti-democratic foreign policies of the past forever. What Trump tried to do to us is nothing compared to what we did to Iraq in 2003 or Chile in the 70s, for examples.
Those things being said, the destruction of democracy anywhere is a travesty. This is a crude way to phrase it, but if any country on Earth “deserves” a coup, it’s probably the U.S. But no matter how deserved or not it was, it’s still tragic. As a society, we can never again say that we are nation that has always had a peaceful transfer of power. That’s not who we are anymore. A coup in our country is no longer limited to the realm of young adult dystopian novels, it’s the stuff of very plausible reality.
There’s a great line from the movie Gladiator, where the dying emperor talks of Rome not as a place, but as a dream; the place will have faults and will fail, but the dream — no matter how idealistic and fully unachievable — won’t. The United States of America the country is rotten and undeniably full of failures, but the dream of America, that democracy can not only last but be the best set of institutions for human flourishing, has always been something to strive for. Maybe I’m the only one who feels like this, but I think the events of yesterday permanently wedged the American reality away from that dream and I’m angry and mad and sad about it.
The bell’s been rung, and everyone in the country (and the world) with anti-democratic sentiment has heard it. It can’t be unrung.