Ultimately he attempted to use his conspiratorial base to stage an insurrection or a coup to reject the results of the election and remain in power. The idea that elections would be stolen by the elites had been already circulating so widely that when Trump lost the elections, it wasn’t difficult for him to convince his supporters that this was not a democratic result, but another failure of the democratic process that always leaves the voice of the people muted.
The Crystal-Clear Moment of Populist-Conspiratorial Thinking
The events of January 6 are potentially a turning point in American politics as they crystallized the political and ideological reality of the American polity and society. The anti-democratic propensity of many Republican elites and the radical base of the Party has been flashed out. The Republican elites, eager to stay in power, not only readily embraced Trump’s conspiratorial and authoritarian style and his support base but also fueled it. Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart show that this new coalition of voters, threatened by social deprivation and neglected by the ruling parties, lead the illiberal conservative revolt. Through the Trump mo(ve)ment, the Republican party has become the front in this broader battle of the culture war.
The evidence is accumulating that this was a premeditated attack and the President’s own order to march at the end of his speech at the rally that day is on record. By encouraging the raid on the Capitol as one last desperate move to change the results of an election that he clearly lost, Trump has broken a cardinal rule at the core of a democratic system: peaceful transfer of power through elections.
Populists, including Trump, do not deny the importance of elections, but in their mind, the function of elections is to bring the rightful majority to the forefront of the political process. And when this morally and culturally superior majority loses in elections, it is because elites do not let them win. In this view of elections, populists should always win in order for the process to be deemed legitimate and fair.