National Guard members in the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C., January 2021
Joshua Roberts / Reuters

For several months, millions of people in the United States have been living in an alternate reality—one in which President Donald Trump has been fighting off a coordinated effort to steal the presidency from him and give it to Joe Biden. The idea first took root in the weeks prior to the election, when Trump looked likely to lose. States were reworking their voting processes in response to the coronavirus pandemic, and purveyors of the alternate narrative portrayed those efforts as a Democratic attempt to steal the vote. Doing so preemptively delegitimized voting procedures, such that when Trump lost,

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