We should have been ready for it, yet the spectacle at the Capitol came as a shock | Emma Brockes

Even after four years of dire predictions, our imaginations had failed to prepare us for Wednesday’s scenes

“Are you watching this?” I was crossing the road, five minutes late to pick up the kids, and after reading the text, paused to scroll. Whoa. Instantly, I texted someone else. “Is your TV on?” “No.” “Turn it on.” After pick-up, we ran to a doctor’s appointment, where the receptionist had the TV on behind the desk. “This is insane,” he murmured, as someone in the waiting room read a news report aloud to his teenage daughter. When we got home, a few neighbours had come out of their apartments to mill, masked, in the hallway. “The numbers of people who support this look low, but it doesn’t have to be a majority,” said one, darkly.

The absorption into daily life of disastrous events is one the world has grown used to over the last 12 months, which isn’t to say each new disaster isn’t shocking. This is particularly true in America, where no matter how many times one is reminded that millions of Americans hold opinions that seem, to millions of others, actively insane, their public expression never gets less astounding. When the Trump-supporting mob stormed the Capitol on Wednesday, the most flabbergasting thing was less that it was happening, than that after four years of dire predictions, our imaginations had still failed to prepare us.

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