Will America’s Democracy Survive?
If you ask me what was the most relevant global event of 2021, in addition to the pandemicI would say it was the violent attack on the Capitol on January 6 in Washington DC; it may go down in history as the beginning of the end for American democracy. I am not exaggerating. There are those who are trying to downplay the events of January 6 and paint them as an understandable outburst of frustration from supporters of former President Donald Trump who could not believe they had lost the election. But it was much more than that. It was the first time in recent history that an outgoing US president tried to ignore an election result, and it may be a preview of what Trump will do if he runs again and wins in 2024.
Trump did everything possible to subvert the electoral result. He called Georgia’s secretary of state, a Republican, to ask him to “find” the 11,780 votes he needed to overturn the results in that state, according to a recording of the conversation. Then Trump asked his supporters to go to Washington DC on January 6 to demand that Congress ignore the election results, and he publicly demanded that then-Vice President Mike Pence not certify them.
The crowds that arrived at the Capitol on January 6 chanted “Let’s fight for Trump!” and “Mike Pence to the gallows!” It was an attempted coup of the kind we often see in the Third World, but which were almost unimaginable in the US And yet it happened before our eyes. And it threatens to happen again. These are the facts that no one must forget, if they want this country to remain a democracy: First, President Biden defeated Trump by a record 7 million votes and by 362-232 votes in the Electoral College.
Secondly, Trump’s lies that the elections were “stolen” from him They have been deemed unfounded by Trump’s own Justice Department, by more than 60 US courts, and by the conservative-majority US Supreme Court. Third, Trump continues to falsely claim that he won. And his lies, amplified by right-wing media, are taken seriously by many: 68% of Republicans believe the election was “stolen,” according to a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute.
What is equally surprising, Republican leaders like Senate Party Bloc Chairman Mitch McConnell, who said on January 13: “There is no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible” for the attack on Capitol Hill, are now silent. Fearful of losing their jobs, they have surrendered to Trump. Some of my Republican friends tell me that the attack on the Capitol was an unfortunate event, but not a serious one, because democracy finally prevailed. But that’s a dangerous argument, because Trump is taking concrete steps to learn from what went wrong and steal the 2024 election.
Trump he’s installing his stalwarts in top electoral offices in swing states like Georgia, Arizona, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. The next time you call state election officials in your party and ask them to “find” nonexistent votes, they will likely listen to you. And Trump’s return to the White House will be even more possible if, as is likely, his Republican Party wins the 2022 midterm elections. A new “Trumpist” majority Congress may change laws to restrict voting in Democratic districts.
In general, the party outside the White House wins the US midterm elections. And it is most possible that, with the current outbreak of the pandemic, 2022 is no exception. With a Congress in his hands and staunch election officials in swing states, Trump may become an elected dictator in 2024, just like his friend Vladimir Putin in Russia. If Trump’s coup attempt goes unpunished, there is a serious danger that history will go back to remembering January 6, 2021 as the moment when a slow-motion coup began that led to the end of American democracy.