The assault on the capitol building in Washington last week was bad, but it apparently could have been significantly worse.
We've all seen photos of various Red Hats smiling for the camera, stealing lecterns, and propping their feet up on Speaker Pelosi's desk, but that was more or less a sideshow. Another contingent that entered the building was not there for the thrill; they were there to capture or kill and the photos of men carrying zip-ties are exactly what it looks like.
From the Associated Press:
“Hang Mike Pence!” the insurrectionists chanted as they pressed inside, beating police with pipes. They demanded House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s whereabouts, too. They hunted any and all lawmakers: “Where are they?” Outside, makeshift gallows stood, complete with sturdy wooden steps and the noose. Guns and pipe bombs had been stashed in the vicinity. [...]
When they breached the abandoned Senate chamber, they milled around, rummaged through papers, sat at desks and took videos and pictures. One of them climbed to the dais and yelled, “Trump won that election!” Two others were photographed carrying flex cuffs typically used for mass arrests.
But outside the chamber, the mob’s hunt was still on for lawmakers. “Where are they?” people could be heard yelling.
We may have been much closer to watching a live stream of an execution than any of us initially realized.
Reading the press report this morning, I was reminded of the plot to kidnap and kill Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer that Republicans more or less shrugged at when the plotters were arrested by the FBI just before the November election.
What happened in Washington last week illustrates that there's no guarantee for them that future targets will necessarily be Democrats. The Red Hats have been radicalized against any form of legitimate government; even one largely controlled by Republicans. They may have literally hanged Mike Pence or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell if they were captured.
The next plot against a sitting governor or elected official may not be thwarted as it was in Michigan and the target may be a Republican who did not support Trump's coup. And some of this may feel familiar to anyone who remembers the 1990s, but the average conservative voter is far more radicalized today than they were then. To my admittedly untrained eye, it feels like the threat could come from anywhere and from any person, not just militias and conspiracy theorists who emerged in the 90s. In the 2020s, the majority of Republicans are conspiracy theorists and many of them cosplay as militiamen. The potential threat is more widespread and less focused.