A coup either succeeds or fails, usually within a few hours. Stopping anti-democratic actions like Wednesday’s attack on the Capitol requires political engagement over time. Legal remedies like arrests and impeachment can help. So can political remedies, like political parties cutting off money to those who participate in anti-democratic actions, and party elites speaking out against it.
Subtler responses are also important.
“Authoritarian leaders are desperately afraid of ridicule because so much of their power comes from social connectedness,” Dr. Singh said, and treating them as if they are respectable reinforces that power.
But, he said, treating Wednesday’s attack, and Mr. Trump’s support of it, with the “ridicule and umbrage it deserves” is a way to undermine any suggestion of legitimacy or authority.
Some senior Republican officials did that yesterday. For weeks after the election, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican from Kentucky who is majority leader, had remained silent about Mr. Trump’s spurious claims of electoral fraud. On Wednesday, he said on the Senate floor that overruling the voters would “damage our republic forever.”
Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah and a former presidential candidate, was even more outspoken.
“We gather due to a selfish man’s injured pride,” he said when the chamber reconvened after the attack, “and the outrage of supporters who he has deliberately misinformed for the past two months and stirred to action this very morning. What happened here today was an insurrection incited by the president of the United States.”
But the response was far from uniform. In Congress, 147 Republican lawmakers, including eight senators, still voted against certifying the results of the election. One was Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, who had been photographed earlier that day giving a closed-fisted salute to the crowd of Mr. Trump’s supporters, many of whom later participated in the attack on the Capitol.