If you need a mood that best sums up American’s collective thinking over the past five years—or heck, even its entire two-and-a-half century run—it would be that of intentional ignorance, a desire to willingly suspend disbelief about the realities of what this country is.
America is an idea, it’s often said. But believing that allows so much of what’s happening IRL to be ignored, in service of the belief floating through the ether that America is somehow better than it actually is.
From people shocked by the election of Donald Trump to a surprise at the callousness with which large swathes of this nation have ignored the deaths and hospitalizations of millions during the COVID-19 pandemic, the phrase that has almost always presaged any kind of societal calamity is that “it could never happen here.”
Despite very logical precursors and clear precedents, despite pathways merging onto highways that are clearly pointed right at despair and disaster, a frustrating amount of people still think this is a country that rolls up its sleeves and solves problems. Believes unity is a reality.
The truth is much harsher. That the cracks in our institutions have been patched over not with mortar but tar paper, that yawning chasms of inequality haven’t been bridged by takes, but spliced together with $60 checks, that our population can’t be assuaged and unified by some new figure, because the animosity is running too high.
In the run-up to the Capitol riot on Jan. 6, if you told people that conspiratorial Trump supporters would seize the Capitol and attempt to restore a defeated president to power, the response would be that it doesn’t happen here.
And yet, there were people on the dais the day before the riot, declaring “Victory or death,” the only two options for the Jan. 6 march.
If you told someone that millions of people would be whipped to a fervor by a single post on an obscure website about fanfic of Hillary Clinton being jailed, they’d very assuredly and huffedly tell you that couldn’t happen here. And yet just weeks after QAnon first started, it leaked into the president’s messaging, on display for everyone to see.
But no one noticed.
Today is the anniversary of the Jan. 6 riot. And while people want to look back on that, remember the shock of it, it’s more important to take it not as a shocking event but as a shattering one. One that should eliminate the glass façade with which we so often look at the American experiment.
Believing it can happen here is the only response as we march into an unsure future.
We here at the Daily Dot assuredly believe it can happen. We covered QAnon first before anyone noticed, and warned of its dangers. We pointed out the language that brought us to this point before it happened. We knew who the Q Shaman was when he climbed on the House dais because we’d covered him long before. Go back years, as Trump was making his rise, we were reporting on the army of trolls he was amassing, which became the locus of our discourse.
Because you read the Daily Dot, you know that what foments on the internet becomes our reality. And because we report on the internet, we take it seriously. We know what the future portends, because we see it being discussed out in the open, while others choose to ignore it.
We will not sugarcoat and allow for reversion to old thinking in the coming three years, when the next two elections have the ability to fundamentally break the American system, as people in power the next time may not give up after a single day’s assault.
Whatever you think can’t happen here, you’re wrong. It can, and you need to be prepared that it will.
And we pledge to always be honest about the reality of it.
READ THE REST OF THE DAILY DOT’S JAN. 6 ANNIVERSARY COVERAGE
- Accused Capitol rioters have raised $3 million on crowdfunding sites—seek $10 million more
- The future is a false flag: How Jan. 6 rioters prove Trump-world will never accept the truth
- The anger and vitriol that led to Jan. 6 hasn’t dissipated—it’s percolating online more than ever