I suspect that in much, not all, of the comment on the riot in the US Capitol on 6 January, the usual disease of short-term thinking has taken hold. Trump is clearly culpable, whilst the role of social media and conspiracy theories is rightly getting attention. But much more lies behind all that.

In effect, the guy photographed with a Confederate flag pointed up the historical background. That is most obvious with the race issues going back to slavery, and then the Civil War and segregation. But the 'culture wars' have been rumbling along at least since the 1960s, with influences ranging from feminists to neo-conservatives to Marxists. It is no accident that Trump's appeal has been strongest to men without college degrees. Lionel Shriver says her generation grew up feeling America was an immovable presence. That was always questionable in a country with profound cultural divides just a century after a brutal civil war.

The events of January 6, even as they appear as part pantomime, should serve as a reminder that democracy, and constitutional government, will not work unless conflicts and divisions are kept within acceptance of the rules of the game, including how those can be changed. When we disagree we each owe a duty to others to allow them to put their views and to treat them with a minimum of respect.

Inevitably, cultural divides, especially ones with moral overtones of others being depraved, will strain the system. Consensus threatens tedium, but without a minimal consensus we are left with trial by battle.

Already it is clear that the fallout from this chaotic certification of Biden's victory will last for years and not just in the USA. But if we take the trouble to reflect long-term over the issues it raises, some good may yet come out.

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