Washington: Donald Trump's reckless dishonesty has reached its horrifying but logical end point: blood on the floor of the US Capitol Building and a woman dead. A temple of American democracy under siege by a violent mob of domestic terrorists.
Tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel famously said in 2016 that Trump's supporters take him seriously but not literally.
But when Trump falsely claimed again and again that the November election had been stolen from him by corrupt Democrats and weak Republicans, tens of millions of his radicalised supporters took him at his word.
Wrongfully convinced that the election had been marred by unprecedented fraud, it was only a matter of time until some of them tried to intervene to "stop the steal".
And so it came to pass when Trump urged his supporters to gather in Washington DC on the day Congress was scheduled to certify Joe Biden's election victory. Some travelled from across the country to participate in the event.
"We will never give up, we will never concede," Trump told his supporters as they gathered near the White House. "You don’t concede when there's theft involved."
Earlier, Trump's personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the crowd: "Let’s have trial by combat."
Brimming with righteous anger, the crowd marched towards the Capitol where dozens of rioters burst through flimsy barricades and stormed the building.
The members of the House and Senate had to be evacuated; one woman has died after she was shot inside the capitol in cicumstances that remain murky.
Trump's half-hearted request for the protesters to go home came far too late to absolve him of blame for what Republican congressman Adam Kinzinger correctly described as an attempted coup.
January 6, 2021, will now live in infamy as one of most shameful days in American history.
By refusing to accept the peaceful transfer of power, Trump polluted the bloodstream of American politics and made violence inevitable. Rather than championing law-and-order as he claimed, he promoted lawlessness and anarchy.
Trump's lies about election fraud, alongside his disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic, will ensure that he is regarded as one of the worst presidents in American history – and arguably the worst.
But he didn't do it alone.
Republican politicians who should have known better – like Texas Senator Ted Cruz – lent legitimacy to Trump's dangerous fantasies of election fraud in a cynical effort to boost their standing with the party base.
Cruz was among the dozen senators who planned to object to the election results in Congress on Thursday (AEDT); over 100 House Republicans were expected to do the same.
Many of Trump's allies in the conservative media also promoted Trump's false claims in an effort to boost their ratings.
January 6, 2021, will now live in infamy as one of most shameful days in American history. Trump and his enablers played with fire and American democracy got burnt.
Trump Biden 2020
Understand the election result and its aftermath with expert analysis from US correspondent Matthew Knott. Sign up to The Sydney Morning Herald‘s newsletter here, The Age‘s here, Brisbane Times‘ here and WAtoday‘s here.
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