The attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, was the most violent assault on democracy in modern American history. It has since become clear that then-President Trump and a group of his closest advisors incited the attack on Congress to abet a coup that would overrule the voters’ choice. The House select committee charged with investigating these events has identified three rings of activity: a large, less complicit, outer circle of avid supporters who believed the Big Lie, a smaller number of resolute white-power radicals, and a suited inner circle that strategized to overthrow the election, exploiting federalism to achieve its ends.
Nancy MacLean (NHC Fellow, 2008–09; 2021–22) will explain how each of these three elements is the product of decades of intentional cultivation. What we are seeing in the United States today is the coming together of a network of far-right corporate donors determined to remake the world, a major political party their grantees have radicalized beyond recognition, and vigilantism in multiple arenas being spurred by highly profitable media outlets. If we don’t reckon with the deep historical roots of what happened this time last year, she concludes, those events could be a pilot for and prologue to a far worse outcome in the future.
U.S. Capitol photo by Brett Davis