Joe Biden had spent a year in the hope that America could go back to normal. But last Thursday, the first anniversary of the deadly insurrection at the US Capitol, the president finally recognised the full scale of the current threat to American democracy.
“At this moment, we must decide,” Biden said in Statuary Hall, where rioters had swarmed a year earlier. “What kind of nation are we going to be? Are we going to be a nation that accepts political violence as a norm?”
It is a question that many inside America and beyond are now asking. In a deeply divided society, where even a national tragedy such as 6 January only pushed people further apart, there is fear that that day was the just the beginning of a wave of unrest, conflict and domestic terrorism.
A slew of recent opinion polls show a significant minority of Americans at ease with the idea of violence against the government. Even talk of a second American civil war has gone from fringe fantasy to media mainstream.