Fired up by the Great Orator, they charged their way into the Capitol building, which turned out to be as heavily fortified as a slice of angel food cake. The proximate aim of the action was to get inside and stop the certification of the Electoral College vote so that Trump could win.* In one widely circulated video, police with riot shields tried to block the entry of one group of rioters, who yelled at them, “Pussies! Pussies!” And that was the first sign of some possible incoherence at the heart of the revolution. What was the cops’ manly option? Shooting the rioters? And more important: Isn’t this the pro-cop group, the party of law and order?
David A. Graham: This is a coup
Once inside, they were bent on proving themselves fierce and intimidating—and they were those things. But when they got to the National Statuary Hall, on the second floor, where velvet ropes indicate the path that tourists must take, they immediately sorted themselves into a line and walked through it. In other words, they were biddable. They were men (and, yes, some women) lost in a modern world that no longer assumed they come first. They were looking for someone to tell them what to do. Trump told them what to do. So did the velvet ropes.
It would not be hard for a tyrant to compel men like these into violence. Like the original patriots, they were ready to crack heads and convinced they were paying too much in taxes.
It seems as though they hadn’t expected to gain entrance with such ease—an ease that becomes more suspicious as the hours pass—and once there they didn’t know what to do, exactly. One patriot made it all the way to Nancy Pelosi’s office, where (per his own gleefully repeated description) he sat at her desk, scratched his balls, left a note—“Nancy, Bigo was here, you bitch”—and grabbed a trophy: an envelope stamped with her name. Soon enough he’d trotted back outside to show it off, the victor in a one-man panty raid. He was an envelope guy in an email world, but suddenly he was taking control of his destiny.
A man in a Viking helmet and the kind of face paint not often seen outside sporting venues held a sign reading Hold the Line Patriots, which made you wonder if he was just a misguided New England fan. Who can make sense of the new football schedule? Inside, he ran around issuing guttural cries and climbing the furniture, like someone who had been thawed out from a 1995 Robert Bly retreat. (Bly was part of the movement that coined the term toxic manhood, the toxicity being office work and too much time around bossy women, and the antidote being a return to the original state of dude nature: roaring, beating drums.) This was not a low-T group. This was not a group that had been robbed and diminished by radical feminism. And they proved it by defecating on the floors and tracking their own filth through the hallways. They were dazed by power and limited in their conception of what to do with it. Some rioters left the building in the charged, happy way people exit the Dive Devil ride at Magic Mountain: single file, grinning, and not really sure what just happened. They cried out for beer, they pumped their fists in triumph, they went looking for Mom and money for curly fries.