It might be easy, it certainly would be reassuring, to dismiss Saturday night's violence in Washington as an exceptional moment but that hope begins to look untenable.
Far-right groups clashed with counter-protesters after a march by conservatives protesting against president-elect Joe Biden’s election victory. That those protestors, including uber-right Proud Boys, were encouraged by a presidential flyover is disconcerting.
Even more disconcerting is that last week more than 120 Republican members of the House of Representatives wrote to the supreme court supporting the lawsuit brought by Texas, which had been joined by Trump, to overturn Biden’s victory in four states.
The court, on Friday night, refused to consider the issue. That was followed on Saturday by another federal court defeat for Trump — around 50 now — when Wisconsin judges threw out a case being fought there which, they said, “smacks of racism”.
A reality recognised by Michael Steele, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, who called the effort “an affront to the country”.
This slide offers many lessons, especially in a country where historical events are sometimes marked without a full context or, simply, hijacked.
Trump's attempted coup — what else is it? — shows that some people will believe anything even if their country's courts, public administrators, and politicians tell them they are wrong.
That this cancer should grip the world's most powerful democracy is frightening. Trump's encouragement of this corruption, and the politicians who support it, move the perception of him from an ignorant blowhard to something far darker, far more sinister.
God bless America indeed, it needs all our prayers.