This is what happens when opportunists like Sens. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas) encourage people to accept the lie that the election was stolen from them. This is what happens when so-called leaders like Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) dispute the very notion of American democracy. And this is what happens when most Republicans acquiesce to the ascendancy of a narcissist and con man like Donald Trump, quietly accepting four years of outrages while anonymously whispering mild criticisms to reporters.
This is what has happened. This is who we are.
And this didn’t just happen suddenly. Maybe the United States has a long, enviable streak — now broken — of peaceful transfers of power, but that is only true at the White House level. My home state, Kansas, entered the Union only after a bloody struggle over whether slavery would be permitted here (and by clearing the land of its original inhabitants). That led to the Civil War, which we’re still arguing about today. The end of Reconstruction resulted in the killings and oppression of Black people across the South. In 1898, a mob of white supremacists overthrew the government of Wilmington, North Carolina, and massacred many citizens. Lynch justice ruled vast stretches of America for much of the 20th century, enabled by a Congress that took decades to pass meaningful Civil Rights legislation. Bull Connor used fire hoses on protesters. John Lewis was beaten at Selma. Timothy McVeigh slaughtered civilians and children with his bomb in Oklahoma City.