These events on the Capitol steps offer both a harbinger of the violent political unrest to come in our country and a glimpse of how we might avoid the worst and navigate back to a functioning democracy.
First, it is paramount to understand that what occurred at our Capitol that day was not an anomaly. It was an orchestrated attempt, long in the planning, that capitalized on decades of deep existential grievances, intensifying partisanship, political manipulation, and a media ecosystem that preys on outrage.
This power grab is playing out in the context of a decades-long trend of increasingly toxic political polarization that is addictive, change-resistant and making us sick. A recent poll found half of Americans experience their family as more divided than 5 years ago. Most Republicans (68%, or 97% if they trust far-right news) believe the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump. Today, 85% of Democrats believe the Republican party has been taken over by “racists,” while 84% of Republicans believe the Democratic party is controlled by “socialists.”