Must read Katherine Miller: “The System Isn’t Built for Jan. 6, and Neither Are We”

Katherine Miller NYT column:

The riot at the Capitol was happening and then it wasn’t. Mr. Trump eventually left, but didn’t leave. The House impeached, but the Senate acquitted. Prosecutors brought charges, but the process has spooled out into an in-between place.

Committees aired hearings and released transcripts; people wrote books and filed civil suits; individuals such as Rudy Giuliani have faced punishing financial penalties. And we have learned more and worse details about the inner workings of the Trump White House that melted down into disaster.

But Mr. Trump might still become president again, and he has never let go of the idea that animated Jan. 6 — that the election was stolen from him — and that idea has hardened in regular people.

It’s as if the country had a simultaneous, destabilizing experience, and it’s sitting there under the surface, and it must be doing something to the American psyche.

One of the things that makes Jan. 6 hard to neatly contain in the collective memory is the emotional, sloppy, accidental disaster nature of it. The event unfolded in public, and learning more about the lead-up to it tends to affirm the broad contours of what we knew when it took place. The select committee testimony and hearings, the indictments and civil suits and the many reported books are filled with examples of how ill conceived so much of what led to Jan. 6 was — and yet it eventually became a surreal scene where real people died, the police got beaten with American flags, aides and lawmakers ran and hid, and hundreds of people who believed Mr. Trump got wrapped up in the legal system.

The origin point of that day was Mr. Trump’s inability to accept that he lost, but everything in service of it is hard to wrap your head around. It’s not as if anybody needs a trial to form an opinion about Jan. 6. It’s not even that the criminal justice system absolutely had to be the way to handle this matter; it wasn’t, and charging or convicting Mr. Trump might have unintended consequences.

But a trial was possibly the last remaining avenue for a public re-examination of Jan. 6, certainly before the election, and possibly for years. Everyone has instead lived through an intense period of anticipating that consideration and its potential consequence, without getting it.

What all this lack of resolution can obscure is how fundamental this is to Mr. Trump as a political figure. Jan. 6 and his expansive idea of power being taken from him is something the voter has to embrace or reject or ignore or try to square with the other things the voter might care about. That the election was stolen from him is what Mr. Trump cares about, and that the transfer of power must take place is what the country was founded on, and that Mr. Trump’s endless words can manifest in cataclysmic real-life action is what people fear and the most hard-core supporters love about Mr. Trump….

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