There have been streams of commentary in the aftermath of last week’s storming of the Capitol in Washington DC. Much has seemed pro forma, offering no particularly fresh insight. Then again, it was possibly unfair to expect any. After all, how surprising or unexpected could this have been given the weeks of repudiation of the election results by Donald Trump and his supporters, their deliberate dissemination of lies meant to undercut trust in the electoral process, and their exhortations to “stop the steal”?

Often it is the particular that provides the most penetrating perspective, and a portrait of one of those participating in the attempted insurrection, published in the New York Times on January 10, is required reading. Written by Ben Smith, who worked briefly alongside the would-be insurrectionist at BuzzFeed, it describes a young man who appeared not only politically directionless but also conflicted: once a Bernie Sanders fan, he then became a rabid Maga supporter. On so...

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