Trump's coup d'emotion

Trump and his backers say they’re trying to retake the White House (and maybe sincerely think there’s some chance they can). But what they’re actually getting here is emotional gratification (and money). Trump wants to be able to claim victory and whine about the supposed abuses he’s suffered even more, I suspect, than he wishes to have the responsibilities of the presidency for another four years. These supporters imagining themselves valiantly dying in a God-ordained fight for Trump’s reign are enjoying their delusion. They’re having fun play-acting heroism online; they don’t truly want to die.

And if the feeling is an (unadmitted) end unto itself, and the terminology feeds the feeling, then the terminology does matter and could even contribute to a recurrence of this — well, whatever it is. A “Twitter sedition,” perhaps. A “felt putsch.” A “coup d’emotion.”

The “frightening substance of what we’re facing” is significantly in what some large number of our fellow citizens want to feel. We’ve focused on possible institutional consequences of Trump’s failing legal challenges to the election, but millions of Americans’ enjoyment of this charade of heroics and intrigue is a threat to functional governance, too.