America Is Running Out of Time

A reader’s guide to The Atlantic’s coverage of a worsening democratic crisis


By Adrienne LaFrance | The Atlantic | January 6, 2022

History finds us two ways, to borrow from Hemingway: gradually, then suddenly. One year after Donald Trump led his supporters in an attempted coup against the United States, the nation is still very much in the throes of that attack.


Despite blaring sirens and flashing lights, despite ever more visible signs of the fragility of American democracy, envisioning what America will become if we fail to prevent the next coup attempt is strangely, terrifyingly difficult. As my colleague George Packer argued recently, only by correcting this failure of imagination will we have a shot at crawling our way out of catastrophe. Those who seek to trample democracy in America have a coherent plan and are resolute in carrying it out. “They will certainly try again,” Barton Gellman wrote in his essential cover story about the coup attempt. “An unpunished plot is practice for the next.”