Historic Parallels to the Insurrection of the Capitol : It's Been a Minute with Sam Sanders History has a way of repeating itself. Last week's storming of the U.S. Capitol has parallels to an incident dating back to 1874, when a paramilitary force of ex-Confederates seized control of the Louisiana state house. Their goal? To depose a governor who won the election and replace him with his opponent. Sam revisits this history with Jamelle Bouie, columnist at The New York Times. They explore why the path toward political unity in our time might actually be through division.

Follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at samsanders@npr.org.

We've Had Insurrections Before

We've Had Insurrections Before

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Trump supporters gathered outside the Capitol Building last week, in Washington, as Congress prepared to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) Jose Luis Magana/AP hide caption

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Jose Luis Magana/AP

Trump supporters gathered outside the Capitol Building last week, in Washington, as Congress prepared to affirm President-elect Joe Biden's victory. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Jose Luis Magana/AP

History has a way of repeating itself. Last week's storming of the U.S. Capitol has parallels to an incident dating back to 1874, when a paramilitary force of ex-Confederates seized control of the Louisiana state house. Their goal? To depose a governor who won the election and replace him with his opponent.

Sam revisits this history with Jamelle Bouie, columnist at The New York Times. They explore why the path toward political unity in our time might actually be through division.


Interview Highlights

On the throughline of race in last week's events:

"So much of American politics since the Civil War has been about this question of who can exercise political power. Who has not just the full rights of citizenship, but who is a legitimate political actor. And if you start thinking about race in those terms, less as personal prejudice, less as a group of people who hate Black people or Hispanic people or what not... then I think things become a bit more intelligible."

On the argument that lawmakers should pursue unity, and that holding President Trump accountable only inflames more anger and division:

"We're already in a situation where there is profound division and crisis. The status quo is constitutional and political crisis. And so the question isn't how do we avoid a crisis, it's how do we deal with the crisis we're in right now. And I would say that the way to deal with the crisis we're in right now is to understand that the only way to unity is through division. And that we actually do need to divide the country into those who support the nation's constitution, all the bedrock elements of American democracy, and those who see them as something to be disposed of."

On Congress's hesitation to quickly condemn the insurrection and violence last week at the Capitol:

"I think that you also have to consider that the leadership of Congress has been there for 30 or 40 years. And that, there I think is a complacency about what it means to exercise power and authority... Sometimes I wonder if our Congressional leadership thinks it lives in a different political era than it does. That its memories extend all the way back to the '70s and the '80s to the Reagan revolution, to the backlash to Clinton, to all of these things — and that that's the political world they're operating in, not the one of 2020."

This episode of 'It's Been a Minute' was produced by Jinae West. It was edited by Jordana Hochman. You can follow us on Twitter @NPRItsBeenAMin and email us at samsanders@npr.org.