Day of Shame for America’s Democracy
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“This is an attempted coup,” the US Democrats say, and they are right: Trump supporters stormed parliament and initially prevented Biden from confirming the election victory. Politically responsible for this are the president and his party.
Wwhat America experienced on Wednesday was nothing more than a coup attempt by Trumpists. Protesters have violently entered the Capitol, the heart of American democracy. And they have actually succeeded in preventing the electoral vote count that is currently taking place and the certification of the election of Trump’s successor Joe Biden.
Windows were smashed, doors destroyed, tear gas was used in the central rotunda of the Capitol, demonstrators occupied the central podium of the parliamentary chamber and broke into parliamentary offices, including that of the majority speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, formally number three in the state. Vice President Mike Pence and Congressmen from both Houses had to be evacuated in a hurry.
This was not a spontaneous outbreak of violence; it was the logical result of all the lies and bottomless claims of “electoral fraud” that Donald Trump, his spineless Republican counterparts, and their accomplices have spread in the conservative media over the past two months to have. They all systematically prepared the ground for the violent assault of the mob on the US parliament at the moment when the complicated electoral process with the counting of the electoral votes was to come to a ceremonial conclusion.
Even before the election, the president played with the idea of violence in case he lost the election. Shortly before Christmas, he had called on his fans to come to Washington, DC in large numbers to demonstrate against the alleged election fraud. “Big protest on January 6th in DC,” he tweeted. “Come there, it will get wild!” And then it actually got wild.
Many Republicans have silently portrayed Trump’s election fraud allegations as some sort of political game that will wear itself out when the Trumpists vent their frustration. That “political game” has now become bitterly serious. A reminder that inflammatory words are not just words, but have real effects in the real world out there.
Indeed, Trump’s fans’ storming of the Capitol qualifies for an uprising against the constitutional order as defined by US law. Because it is the violent interruption of a legitimate democratic act. And there can be no doubt that the political blame for this day of shame for America’s democracy rests directly with the president and his party.
At least 13 Republican senators and dozens of MPs had announced before the vote at the joint session of both chambers of parliament that they would vote against certification of the election victory of Joe Biden. For weeks they fed the stab in the back legend of an alleged major conspiracy that is said to have brought Trump out of an election victory. And if, in spite of the lack of evidence, one really believes that Joe Biden’s election victory was a fraud, then the forcible prevention of parliamentary certification of that election victory seems like a kind of legitimate democratic self-defense for those who have been drunk by the Trump propaganda of the past few weeks .
When the American founding fathers went to a cloister in Philadelphia in 1787 to deliberate on their future constitution, Benjamin Franklin was asked what form of government he and his colleagues had now agreed on. “A republic, if you can keep it up,” Franklin said at the time. A reminder that a democracy can only survive if a majority of citizens stand up for this type of bourgeois self-government.
The Trump mob that has come to Washington will not succeed in ending the unique American democracy project. But it is shocking that part of American society does not seem to have a problem with persistently damaging the institutions of this admirable democracy and its fragile processes.