Writing while events lay fresh on the ground has plusses and minuses. On the one hand, before narratives are concretized (increasingly by force and censorship), key little details stick out that will later become retconned as implausible or forbidden to know about. On the other, we of course do not know how things will shake out even by the time this is published, so the significance of these details might be misconstrued.
The balance mitigates in favor of Content Mindset.
Fortunately, “what the hell is going on” is a significantly easier question to answer than “what is going to happen”, even over Trump’s short remaining lame duck presidency. Two things happened yesterday. A riot, and a coup. These were not the same event.
The riot was mostly peaceful – nothing lit on fire, despite an abundance of tinder, no lynchings of those protecting Enemies of the People, despite an abundance of mass. Rope lines protecting statuary were respected. No one even took a dump in a desk, which showed an admirable level of restraint. As far as I can tell, unsupported hyperventilating about planned mass executions aside, the median attendee wanted nothing so much as to yell at their representatives in person (and probably in disregardable boomer rhetoric about “your oath”, at that).
The effect of this was raw terror. Apparently, on one’s first day in Congress, one is issued a magic pin, to secure entrance, and an autoerotic asphyxiation helmet, to leave it by haste if necessary. If a crowd of hostile plebes threatens to storm the facility, the procedure is to cower in fear and soil oneself, followed by doing exactly what the nice man with the sidearm instructs you to (flee into the rat tunnels). This is followed by voting exactly how the nice man pretending to be in charge of the goon squad instructs you.
Roman virtus, this is not. Hell, there’s a literal big stick for this very contingency. “It’s a symbolic mace, Hank”. Yes, and so is dumping it in a corner so you can scurry away from your constituents. Not one legislator had the instinct to do a Horatius at the Bridge larp and roll the dice at a massive personal PR victory (as we wax hot in faction, in battle we wax cold: Wherefore men fight not as they fought in the brave days of old).
Within hours, a curious thing happened. The federal Department of Defense apparently no longer considers Trump to be at the apex of the national command authority (one probably should have seen this coming when his government blatantly lied to him about which wars we are prosecuting). New York, Maryland, and Virginia sent National Guard units. (Soldiers from the hinterland being sent in to “secure” the capital is never a good sign). Who they report to is unclear – they were never federalized, and no one can quite decide if they were requested by nebulous “National Guard officials”, the mayor of DC, or simply their own impeccable first responder instincts. What, is it supposed to be Mike Pence? Perhaps they’ll make him king for a day in the last 300 hours of his vice presidency, as a treat.
This was followed by Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al cutting Trump’s direct access to communicate with the people. If he requested television airtime, one can imagine the request being outright refused. It is not clear that he is physically free to leave, and it is already clear that his instructions may well be disregarded. Via his press secretary, probably, he has finally conceded that he will be leaving January 20th at latest.
In other words, there was a coup yesterday, and not by Trump.
There are, literally, 300 hours left before he would be gone anyway. There exists enough fed mass and gear to keep an arbitrary number of people out of the linear feet constituting the perimeter of the Capitol – it is not supportable that the Capitol Police “let them in“, but it is clear that they were not set up to keep them out. Now there is talk, which I would take seriously, (there have been fake news reports for four years of this possibility, but they were not accompanied by a communications blackout, removing Trump from the chain of command, and a traitorous vice president) of removing Trump via the 25th Amendment.
I see Wednesday’s events as a successful attempt to cow whatever remaining semi-institutional support Trump had into acquiescence, and to solidify uniparty control by pretending a distinction between the respectable Republicans (an immensely loyal perpetual minority opposition) and those barbarians at the gate. The natural effect of this, combined with the revelation that a lot of the security infrastructure is not meant to deal with more than token opposition (and their forthcoming attempts to restore their honor by kicking down doors in groups of thirty at 3AM), will be to escalate the political tensions and move it from electoral contests to more Schmittian dynamics.
This is, from the perspective of the uniparty, not a bad thing. A robust Trump faction in the GOP or outside of it presenting a viable alternative to the direction of the system would be embarrassing. Morphing them into effectively revolutionaries (“anarchists” seems to be the rhetoric they’re floating) allows the worthless skinsuits constituting Congress to pretend to be the guardians of Respectable Democracy and Tradition, and the nice men with guns instructing them where to go to be the guardians of the guardians.