The Tyranny of the Minority, from Calhoun to Trump 

The deadly mob attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021 — exhorted and then cheered on by President Donald J. Trump, with accountability later stonewalled by the Republican Party — was unprecedented in our history, but then again it wasn’t. It is true that never before had a losing presidential candidate, after pounding a Big Lie about a stolen election, helped to whip up a crowd into a murderous frenzy and directed it to prevent the official congressional certification of his defeat. The last time a losing candidate’s campaign tried to overturn the results, in the incomparably closer election of 1960, Richard Nixon’s supporters, having lost by a whisker to John F. Kennedy, tried to raise a stink about massive vote fraud in eleven states. But the Nixon forces gave way, after recounts, judicial decisions, and state board of elections findings — including those under Republican jurisdiction — went against them. Trump, the Roy Cohn protégé who has long regarded Nixon as insufficiently ruthless, pushed much further, to the point of sedition.  In another vaguely analogous historical example, Andrew Jackson in 1825 charged that a corrupt bargain had denied him the presidency after the uncertain electoral results of a four-way race threw the decision into the House of Representatives. Yet Jackson undeniably won strong popular and electoral pluralities, as Trump did not, his charges of behind- the-scenes chicanery were plausible if unknowable; and he raised no mob nor did anything else to interrupt the normal transfer of power. (Jackson participated in the inauguration ceremonies for the incoming administration.) Trump and his supporters have for years tried to fool the public into viewing him as the reincarnation of Old Hickory; but once again Trump’s subversive words and actions only dramatized their differences.  More recent examples were authentic precedents to

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