..it wasn't a coup.
Not even an attempted coup.
What Is a Coup?
A gang of disorganized, powerless mechanics, janitors, and insurance agents running through the Capitol isn’t a coup. And if it was a coup attempt, it was so far from anything that might hope to succeed as a coup that it should not be taken seriously as such.
So how do we know a coup when we see one?
In their article “Global Instances of Coups from 1950 to 2010: A New Dataset,” authors Jonathan M. Powell and Clayton L. Thyne provide a definition:A coup attempt includes illegal and overt attempts by the military or other elites within the state apparatus to unseat the sitting executive.
There are two key components of this definition. The first is that it is illegal. Powell and Thyne note that this “illegal” qualifier is important to include "because it differentiates coups from political pressure, which is common whenever people have freedom to organize."
In other words, protests, or threats of protest don’t count as coups. Neither do legal efforts such as a vote of no confidence or an impeachment.
But an even more critical aspect of Powell and Thyne’s definition is that it requires the involvement of elites.