This is a coup. Trump's been leading the country toward this for 5 years.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty ImagesSupporters of President Donald Trump protest in the US Capitol rotunda on January 6 in Washington, DC.
  • There’s no other way to say it: Trump supporters attempted a coup.
  • By violently breaching the Capitol, they successfully stopped Congress from certifying the election. That’s an act of terrorism against American democracy.
  • We should be appalled, but we shouldn’t be terribly surprised. Trump has always encouraged violence and said he won’t accept losing an election.
  • “Take Trump seriously, not literally” was the conventional wisdom advice for absorbing Trump’s fascistic rants over the past five and a half years. Few takes have aged more poorly.
  • This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Trump supporters attempted a coup. They committed an act of terrorism against our democracy.

This isn’t hyperbole. Their actions embody the definition of those words.

In an attempt to block congressional certification of the 2020 presidential election and deny the will of the American people, angry armed Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, overran Capitol Police, broke windows, and invaded the floor of the Senate.

They forced Vice President Mike Pence to be swiftly escorted away by the Secret Service. They caused both chambers of Congress to abruptly cease sessions.

Even if it’s only temporary, they successfully blocked the election from being certified. They have tried to violently deny the entrance of a duly elected government.

That’s a coup attempt.

It is also the logical endpoint of the Trump presidency and his own postelection assaults on the democratic process.

There are reports of people being shot. There is video footage of Capitol Police retreating from insurrectionists waving MAGA flags, Gadsden flags, and even Confederate flags.

There are photos of masked criminals hanging from the gallery and outside the cathedral of American government.

The anti-American trespassers shared photos of themselves sitting inside abandoned congressional offices.

A reporter with The Blaze — the media brand popularised by Glenn Beck — tweeted a photo that he said was taken inside House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office and that he was “with the thousands of revolutionaries who have stormed the building.”

These people do not represent all Trump supporters, but they do represent Trump.

The natural endpoint of Trump’s violent rhetoric

We should be appalled that this unthinkable breach into the seat of America’s government, but we shouldn’t be terribly surprised.

With his limited vocabulary and tortured syntax, Trump has long promised a coup if he lost. And he’s always advocated for the legitimacy of political violence. His followers heard the message.

Trump encouraged his violence from his supporters ever since he launched his campaign for president in 2015. He’s also said explicitly in 2016 that he would not accept election results that showed he lost.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, he insisted without evidence that the election was going to be rife with fraud (it wasn’t, as dozens of court rulings have attested).

Trump has relentlessly hammered into the brains of his followers that a grand conspiracy of Democrats, the “fake-news media,” and the “Deep State” are conspiring against them.

And on Wednesday he resorted to calling out his own vice president to thwart the will of the people.

When it became clear that Pence would not take part in a coup, Trump’s followers filled the void.

“Take Trump seriously, not literally” was the conventional wisdom advice for absorbing Trump’s fascistic rants over the past five and a half years.

Few takes have aged more poorly.

This is treason, plain and simple.

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