GWYNN’S ISLAND, Va.—On Doug Sweet’s first trip to the U.S. Capitol, as a 13-year-old in 1975, he tilted his head back, gazed up at the glistening white dome and thought it was the most awesome thing he had ever seen.
On his second trip to the Capitol, he joined a mob of Trump supporters who smashed their way into the seat of the U.S. Congress, and finished his visit handcuffed facedown on the floor.
The 45-year journey between those two visits was marked by bright idealism and belief in dark conspiracies, by a solitary existence and a newfound fraternity with those convinced there is no way Joe Biden beat Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
It didn’t matter that no evidence of widespread election fraud emerged, or that more than 50 legal claims filed by the Trump campaign have been dismissed by courts.
Mr. Sweet put his faith in Mr. Trump and his allies, who for weeks had implored followers to rise up against the outcome of a national election they said was rigged.