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Shocking as last week’s events were, it has all been seen and said before. WB Yeats’ lines from a century ago read like a dispatch from the steps of the US Capitol:
‘Things fall apart: the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.’
Even an ‘innocent ceremony’ to drown is appropriate here; the certification of the Electoral College results in most years is a procedural non-event.
Yeats powerfully captured the two dynamics that repeatedly enable demagogues like Trump: the emptying of society’s middle ground, and that: ‘all that is required for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.’
The latter is the troubling dynamic o…