What happened Wednesday, Jan. 6, in the nation’s capital was ugly, a stain on democracy, treasonous on the part of some of those who breached the Capitol and invaded the Rotunda.
But it was no more a “coup” than the James Throckmorton Middle School production of “1776.”
Here is a standard definition of coup d’etat:
“A sudden and decisive action in politics, especially one resulting in a change of government illegally or by force.”
Like fingerprints, every coup is different, but most share some characteristics.
Force is one of them. Usually, they are backed by the military, by the people who have the biggest guns.
There was no military involvement 1/6/21. Except to break it up.
Even without the military, those attempting to seize the government usually are heavily armed.
Almost none of the criminals in the Rotunda 1/6/21 had firearms. The only person shot was a protestor, an unarmed white woman named Ashli Babbitt. Capitol policeman Brian Sicknick died of wounds after being hit in the head by a fire extinguisher.
Because protestors were unarmed, they used flag poles as spears and threw fire extinguishers instead of grenades.
While some of the accused criminals before the protests allegedly had conspired on the internet to grab some U.S. leaders, such as Democrat Nancy Pelosi, and Republican Mike Pence, there seemed to be no concrete plan to carry out this wishful thinking.
There is zero evidence of an overall plan to capture the government, which coups usually have, along with an identifiable leader.
One aim of a coup is to replace the leader, the president. This group of criminals already had the president. Did they think taking the Capitol would keep him in office? There is no proof of that. They were in a play-acting world of their own.
Typically in a coup, the military seizes the airport, the TV station, the newspaper, the radio, the telephone company to control the means of communication.
Had a rogue military unit smashed into the Washington Post, they would have captured an empty building. Everyone’s working from home. Pretty much the same at Washington TV news bureaus, but headquarters would have taken them off the air had they been captured, Telephone? Everyone has a cell phone and communication through internet platforms.
There was no suggestion the criminal plotters even thought about this or had developed a “plan,” such as the alleged Michigan plotters, to capture lawmakers in the Capitol.
The accused Michigan traitors are awaiting trial.
The best estimate I have seen is that there were maybe 300,000 Trump supporters in D.C. that day.
Some 1% of them, or 3,000 people, gathered on the Capitol steps, and some 1% of them breached the Capitol.
Many of them wandered through the halls like tourists, while the worst of them broke windows, vandalized offices, shit on the floors, stole government property and fought with police.
In the worst case scenario — for which there is no evidence of a credible plan — they would have “captured” the Capitol building.
And there they would have been, completely surrounded, isolated, and ready for arrest.
This is a coup?
No, it was not. It was criminal, it was traitorous, but not an actual attempt to replace the elected government with one of its own, which is what real coups do.
So why is it called a coup by many in the news media?
Because it sounds cool — they’ve never covered a coup before. Let’s put this on the resume!
Or maybe they don’t actually know what a coup is, or because they want to paint this in the darkest terms for their own purposes.
What might those be? An obvious hatred for Donald J. Trump, of course, but let’s not overlook this scenario: The more fear they create over a nonexistent coup, the more they can shrivel your civil liberties and Constitutional right to protest — peaceably, which is what most of the Trumpsters in D.C. did. The vast majority of them fell victim to the repeated lie that the election was stolen. It is sad, but not a crime, to believe lies, and protests, even loud and ugly ones are not “coups.”
But they can be treason, and those who broke the law must be prosecuted. And will be.