The threat to American democracy and the U.S. electoral system did not end when the U.S. Capitol building was cleared and the presidential vote was certified on January 6, 2021. In fact, because of actions taken in states around the country throughout 2021, the threat today is as serious as it was one year ago, according to one prominent writer. In his new and troubling cover story article for The Atlantic’s January/February 2022 issue, journalist Barton Gellman explains that the collapse of America’s democratic principles and underpinnings is already underway and that the country is close—closer than most ever thought possible—to losing not only the country’s constitutional democracy, but what’s left of America’s shared understanding of civic reality.
Gellman’s new article, “January 6 Was Practice,” builds on an article he wrote before the 2020 election for The Atlantic. That piece, “The Election That Could Break America,” focused on the ways that then-President Trump was weakening the norms and structures of American democracy. In many ways, Gellman predicated what would happen on January 6, 2021. What he could not predict is that though the system held one year ago, former President Trump and his supporters would continue their attack on America’s electoral system by enacting restrictive new voting laws, removing nonpartisan election administrators in key states, and shifting how elections are administered at the state levels. He says what the country may find in 2024 is that what happened in 2021 was, indeed, just a practice run toward the end of American democracy as it is known, in favor of autocracy. Please join us for a special conversation with Gellman on the one-year anniversary of the January 6, 2021 attack, and hear why he is more concerned than ever about the future of America democracy, and what he sees as the very real threats to the country’s constitutional order.