A snow cover is currently covering Washington DC – the heart of what is often framed as the world’s largest democracy, looks perfect as a postcard.
But beyond the hyperbola and a year on the day since the event is now simply known as “January 6th“, reality seems worryingly far from perfect.
That day in January 2021 shook the nation.
A coup attempt? A rebellion? An attempt by supporters of Donald Trump to change the outcome of the presidential election.
Politicians hid, police were overrun, five people died.
Donald Trump, who that day had told supporters, “if you do not fight like hell, you will not have a country anymore” was the subject of a federal lawsuit.
He was banned from social media and for a period he was expelled from the Republican Party.
But 12 months later, Team Trump is as active as ever, as defiant as ever, and Mr Trump seems to have conquered the Republican Party from scratch.
“As President Trump likes to say, the real uprising was the undermining of the will of the American people on November 3,” Liz Harrington, the former president’s spokeswoman, told Sky News.
“It was the theft – January 6 was the protest. And I mean, there were probably a million people in Washington. They went to hear a speech where President Trump said, ‘Go go peaceful.'”
She quoted the former president from a meeting he held outside the White House on the day of the Capitol riot.
Trump had told the audience at the beginning of a long speech. “I know everyone here will soon be marching over to the Capitol building to make your voices heard peacefully and patriotically.”
At the end of the long speech, he told supporters: “And we fight. We fight like hell. And if you do not fight like hell, you will not have a country anymore. Our exciting adventures and boldest efforts have not yet begun. Mine fellow Americans, for our movement, for our children and for our beloved country … And I say this in spite of all that has happened, the best has not yet come. “
He continued, “So we have to, we’re going down Pennsylvania Avenue. I love Pennsylvania Avenue. And we’re going to the Capitol and we’ll try to give.”
Was it encouragement?
“No,” said Mrs. Harrington. “I mean, it’s nothing compared to what people on the left say. And you know, he’s talking metaphorically.”
A committee from the House of Representatives has been tasked with investigating the events of January 6, 2021.
350 witnesses have been questioned, 52 subpoenas have been sent and more than 35,000 pages have been received.
Among the published evidence are text messages between some of Trump’s closest allies – sent on and around January 6th.
It turns out that Mr. Trump’s own son Don Jr. and Fox News host Sean Hannity called on the president to intervene while the scenes on Capitol Hill were illuminated globally.
“He has to condemn this shit ASAP,” Don Jr. said in a text message to then-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, adding, “He has to lead now. It’s gone too far and has gone out of control. “
Over the course of the year since that day in January last year, Donald Trump has been busy.
Despite being banned from Twitter and Facebook, he has been in constant campaign mode and reached his followers in other ways.
Many of them have also left Twitter and Facebook for other more niche platforms.
At the rallies, he has continued to claim – against all facts, but to the audience who believe in him – that the election was stolen.
His critics called it “the big lie”. He has nicely reused the phrase and thrown it back after them.
“In our opinion, the big lie in my opinion is that Joe Biden got 81 million votes – the most in history. And yet he is on … 22% of people want him to run again? How exactly does that happen? ? ” said Liz Harrington.
So is Mr. Trump still of the belief that he won the 2020 election?
“Yes, absolutely,” she said.
Of the 65 post-election legal challenges posed by Mr. Trump and his allies, all but one failed because they were unable to prove their claims.
The one challenge that succeeded did not involve fraud. That meant the time allowed to correct errors on ballot papers submitted in Pennsylvania; it involved a small number of boxes and did not change the result of the vote.
But Mrs Harrington said: “No matter how many times you count the same filled ballot box, it will still be a full ballot box. Countouts are very different from revisions.”
Audits have also not found any fraud.
The dominant view among historians and academics – those who would be dismissed as the “establishment” – is that democracy itself in America is in a dangerous state.
“Things are not right, at least as I see it,” said Thomas Zimmer, a German historian and visiting professor at Washington’s Georgetown University.
“Republicans did not conclude from the 2020 election that the experiment with Trumpism had failed. On the contrary, most Republican voters and the clear majority of Republican voters view Joe Biden and the Democratic presidency as fundamentally illegitimate, and they remain united behind Donald Trump.”
Professor Zimmer added: “Republicans up and down the country have reached a point where they see January 6 as a plan, as a test drive, for the next election, as a way to hold on to power.”
Donald Trump lets everyone guess at his intentions. Will he run for president again in 2024?
“It’s his decision to make, and as he likes to say, he thinks he will make a lot of people very happy,” said Liz Harrington.
“He is very committed and wants to continue to fight on behalf of the American people.”
If a week is a long time in politics, then a year is an eternity. But despite the old adage, right now it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Mr. Trump does not get the Republican nomination if he wants to.
He may no longer be in the global spotlight, but he continues to dominate political law here.
A year ago, on January 6, from the bottom up, Donald Trump had positioned himself as the commanding force behind the Republican Party.
Next stop, midway.
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