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January 6 was not as improbable as many believe

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Harold Mendoza

The reverberations and implications of the failed January 6, 2021 American insurrection and coup are increasing as we move into the 2024 election cycle. While some Americans remain shocked about what transpired on this fateful day in Washington, DC, a closer look at history reveals that this wasn’t an improbable occurrence.

Contrary to popular opinion, the white settlers in the British colonies of North America were not unified in their desire to break free from English control and establish an independent, democratic, nation. During the American Revolution: about a third of white colonists wanted to sever ties with Great Britian; a third wanted to remain loyal to Great Britian (the so-called “Tories”) and a third were indifferent.

This narrative indicates that adherence to democratic values has never been a universal characteristic of American political thought. Moreover, the attraction of some individuals to an authoritarian leader is also a part of this scenario. During the 1770s, some persons in British North America felt compelled to follow and obey King George III. Today, some Americans feel compelled to follow and obey Donald J. Trump.

In the end, it appears that, during the upcoming election cycle, the historically “indifferent” segment of the population will determine the social and political future of the United States.

Robert E. Weems Jr. is the Willard W. Garvey Distinguished Professor of Business History at Wichita State University.