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Tuesday, June 22, 2021

The 11 Weeks That Shook America’s Democracy

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Kuldeep Singh
Kuldeep is a Journalist and Writer at Revyuh.com. He writes about topics such as Apps, how to, tips and tricks, social network and covers the latest story from the ground. He stands in front of and behind the camera, creates creative product images and much more. Always ready to review new products. Email: kuldeep (at) revyuh (dot) com

Joe Biden’s inauguration closes one of the most turbulent periods in recent the U.S. history

It began on election night on November 3 and ended on January 20 after the change of tenant in the White House. Eleven weeks that astonished the world and shaken the foundations of American democracy. In that time, the division of its society has widened, entrenched historical problems have worsened and the reputation of its political system has been damaged with the arrival in every corner of the planet of the images of the popular insurrection. A ‘déj vu’ in many places, but unimaginable in America.

Despite the risk of a possible attack, Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris – the first woman, black and Asian in office – took their oath on the outer steps of the Capitol. A ceremony with a small number of guests and without the popular enthusiasm of previous occasions on the esplanade of the National Mall, deserted by health and security measures. An act full of symbolism and conciliatory gestures to try to heal the wounds caused in the same scenario where two weeks before Donald Trump’s followers tried to subvert the electoral results and overthrow democracy.

Democracy and unity have been the two keywords of Biden’s inaugural speech to a nation in low hours due to the scourge of the pandemic and the poisoned heritage of his predecessor, who kept his promise not to attend the transfer of power ceremony. An exceptional and inexcusable absence subject to the refusal to acknowledge his defeat, and which breaks with a 150-year tradition.

Despite the seven million votes difference between the two candidates – 306 electoral votes for the Democratic representative (51.4%) compared to 232 for the Republican (46.9%) – Trump continued all this time haranguing and amplifying the noise of fraud to his more than 74 million voters, he pushed them to take to the streets, legitimizing protests and increasing anger and social fracture. Later, the pressures on judges and the telephone threat arrived, on January 2, to his Republican colleague Brad Raffensperger, Secretary of State of Georgia: “I just want to find 11,780 votes,” he urged.

Until it reached the fateful January 6, which already figures as a black date in the country’s history. That day, the joint session in the Senate was scheduled to ratify the electoral results. Trump supporters, who had called a large protest rally, gathered in front of the White House and heard the president speak again about electoral fraud in several states – dismissed by the courts. He asked them to walk to the Capitol and try to give weak Republicans “the kind of self-love and boldness they need to take back our country. They will never rescue the country with weakness. They have to show strength, they have to be strong”. An adrenaline rush for the members of the Proud Boys, Oath Keepers and Three Percenters, violent far-right organizations that received the blessing of the president himself to act.

According to an investigation by the Associated Press, some members of his electoral campaign were also involved in the organization of the assault on the Capitol “which contradicts the argument that it was a spontaneous movement of the president’s followers”, to try disengage after the fact.

What happened there was seen on television by millions of astonished eyes around the world. It was not the filming of a fictional series, not a massive Halloween party, not even a bad dream. Pure reality television, four hours that shook and embarrassed the North American country. Perhaps it was the work of a radicalized and violent minority of members of the extreme right who do not represent Republican voters, but if we look at the poll conducted by YouGov, 45% of these voters actively supported the seizure of the Capitol, which is more than 33 million Americans. In the eyes of 52% of Republican voters, Biden is the biggest culprit of what happened, compared to 28% who think Donald Trump was responsible.

“We cannot allow the chaos and illegal activity the United States and the world witnessed last week to repeat itself,” Matt Miller, chief of the US Secret Service field office in Washington, told reporters the days before to the ceremony. Therefore, 25,000 members of the National Guard participated during the inauguration ceremony. A demonstration of security unprecedented since the assassination of Martin Luther King in 1968 or since the ceremony of Abraham Lincoln in 1861.

Donald Trump left the White House the same morning of January 20 and took one last time the presidential plane that would take him to his millionaire Florida refuge. Before, wounded in his pride, he assured: “I will return somehow.” Gone is the image of an already isolated ex-president in the last days of his term, abandoned by many members of his cabinet and collaborators who over four years thanked him and looked the other way. TThey consented to Trump’s excesses and dismantling and his dangerous play of powers, in which he harnessed the strength of the broad mass of loyal followers to arbitrarily adapt the springs of the system to his personal interest.

Many wonder if the US political system would have withstood a second Trump term. Thomas Friedman, a columnist for the ‘New York Times’, assures that the American people have survived something really horrible:

“Four years of a president without shame, backed by a party without a backbone, amplified by a network without integrity, each one pumping Unsubstantiated conspiracy theories brought directly into our brains by unethical social media, all heated by a merciless pandemic.” Some of those television networks and social networks, which for years colluded with his presence to increase audiences and increase data traffic, rushed to veto him after the assault on the Capitol.

Friedman is surprised that the whole system did not explode, “because the country had really become a gigantic superheated steam engine.” For the NYT columnist, “What we saw on Capitol Hill last week were the screws and hinges that started to loosen. The departure of Donald J. Trump from the White House and the depletion of the power of his facilitators in the Senate occurred a second before it was too late.”

There is a broad consensus in much of American society, which considers Donald Trump as the worst president in the history of the country. David Remnick, the editor of ‘The New Yorker’ magazine, wrote in 2016, the day after his unexpected victory over Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, a shocking and foreboding article: “Donald Trump’s election to the presidency is nothing less than a tragedy for the American republic, a tragedy for the Constitution, and a triumph for the forces, at home and abroad, of nativism, authoritarianism, misogyny and racism. Trump’s shocking victory, his rise to the presidency, is a disgusting event in the history of the United States and liberal democracy.” Four years later, the American tragedy was consummated: a divided country, a little more isolated and with less international leadership, and two impeachment processes in a legislature, make his time as head of the republic unique.

Of the slogans ‘America first’ and ‘Make America great again’, with which he dazzled a large part of the North American electorate during the electoral campaign four years ago, little more than memory and endless promises remain unfulfilled. Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders summed up in a tweet the legacy the new president receives and the complex path ahead: “Joe Biden will inherit from Trump: The worst economy since the Great Depression, the worst public health crisis in 100 years, massive wealth inequality, the existential threat of climate change, a racist immigration system. These unprecedented crises demand unprecedented action.”

“Science returns to the White House,” declared former Vice President Al Gore minutes before the start of the ceremony. Indeed, Biden has drawn up a list of 53 executive measures on the economy, climate or immigration, with which to reverse some of the policies of his predecessor, both domestically and abroad. But he has made it a priority task to try to straighten out the disastrous management that the outgoing Administration has made of the covid-19 pandemic, which has caused more than 24 million infections in the United States and over 400,000 deaths.

However, the doctrinal legacy sown by Donald Trump does not disappear with his departure from power. Trumpism remains, a sort of populist ideological salad made up of deniers, conspirators, members of the extreme right, supremacists, racists and xenophobes. An inheritance also poisoned within the bosom of the Republican Party, where the narcissism of the boss and the cult of personality have ruled. Almost all of them have benefited from it, although now they are rushing to disengage, except for a small group of congressmen who remain true to their thinking and do not recognize the electoral victory of the Democrat.

Michael Gerson, a columnist for The Washington Post, recently wrote that, for the Republican Party, “a new beginning is only possible through a renewed commitment to democratic ideals.” To achieve this, Gerson recommends that, for the good of the party, its ideology, and the country, “elected Republicans publicly and decisively distance themselves from authoritarian populism. Which means repudiating the lie of a stolen election, supporting the Senate’s condemnation of a justly accused president, and ensuring that he can never again run for office.”

A sense of catharsis runs through the country and much of the world breathes relief with the arrival of Joe Biden to the White House. After overcoming these 11 turbulent weeks that have shaken the country, the United States seeks to once again exhibit its robust democratic tradition, regain confidence in its institutions, the responsibility of its press and the value of its civil society. As Thomas Friedman suggests, “Maybe if we all give Joe a chance to positively surprise us, we can break the terrible political fever that has gripped our land along with covid-19.”

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