Last week, the anniversary of the Jan. 6 assault on the U.S. Capitol, was a profound reminder, for journalists like myself who were there, that history happens slowly and then all at once. I’ve spent years reporting on the rise of the far right, and even longer studying the intersecting conservative moments that gave birth to Donald Trump, and the events of that day represented my absolute worst-case scenario. But one conversation I had that morning confirmed my long-gestating fears: “That building belongs to us,” one protester told me, hours before the riot began, pointing to labor activists’ decade-ago occupation of the Wisconsin State Capitol as inspiration. “They don’t have enough security to stop us.”
I’ve been reflecting on that conversation ever since I wrote about it for Puck. For many people, Trump’s presidency, pandemic response, and election loss were radicalizing. Those events also underscored, again, how quickly politics can change—and just how unpredictable Washington has become now that, with apologies to Bryan Burrough, the barbarians have breached the gates. Many of you wrote to me last week in response, about how the Republican Party is evolving in the post-Trump, post-Covid era; the resurgence of once marginal players and ideas in the G.O.P.; and the candidates who are likely to emerge as rival standard-bearers in the lead-up to 2024. My thoughts, and other observations, below.