A dagger in the throat of American democracy

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WASHINGTON, DC – JANUARY 06: US President Joe Biden gives remarks in Statuary Hall of the U.S Capitol on January 6, 2022 in Washington, DC. One year ago, supporters of President Donald Trump attacked the U.S. Capitol Building in an attempt to disrupt a congressional vote to confirm the electoral college win for Joe Biden. (Photo by Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images)

“A year ago, in this sacred place, our democracy was attacked. The popular will has come under assault. The Constitution has faced the gravest threat. For the first time in our history, a president, who had lost the elections, tried to prevent the peaceful exchange of powers as a violent mob invaded the Capitol. They failed. This is the truth: the former president of the United States has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 elections. Because he believes in power, not in ideal principles and sees his interests above those of the country … His ego defeated, it weighed more than democracy and the Constitution. He did not agree to lose … You do not love the country only when you win. One is not a patriotic by lying. Those who invaded Capitol Hill, and the principals, pointed a dagger at the throat of democracy “: with these words, Democratic President Joe Biden reminded the country, and the world, of the historic day of Epiphany 2021, when Trumpian supporters, in arms and organized, they attempted a coup in the capital.

The speech, echoed in similar tones by a speech by Vice President Kamala Harris, marks a turning point in White House politics. Elected on a unified platform, after months in which he tried, according to his traditional experience as a centrist senator, to dialogue with moderate Republican MPs and with the right of his party, led by West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, Biden takes note of the reality. 25 points lost in consensus since January, higher-than-expected inflation, Covid omicron infecting the country at record rates, the memory of the poorly managed retreat from Kabul, its social and environmental reform agenda blocked in the Senate by Manchin, make the pollster Nate Silver a defeat in the Midterm elections worse than those suffered by Barack Obama and Donald Trump, with the following loss of the subtle majorities in the House and Senate and the end of the initiative in Congress until the 2024 presidential elections.

Biden’s Nature is the story of a senator accustomed to negotiating with colleagues from the Republican Grand Old Party, and then forging the possible compromise. At 79, he must belatedly and reluctantly acknowledge that that time has passed, America is split in two, irreconcilable, halves, with Republicans enthralled by Trump’s populist and nationalist right. The reasoning voices, from Senator Mitt Romney to Congresswoman Liz Cheney, are silenced, the leaders of the Senate, from Mitch McConnell to Lindsey Graham, who had also condemned the assault on Washington, intimidated by the pressure of the base loyal to the former president. But even among the Democrats, despite the mediation in the House of Speaker Pelosi and in the Senate of Senator Schumer (“take him, he’s a Jew” shouted the rioters), the desire for agreement is minimal, and any dialogue with the opposition is experienced as betrayal.

On the ropes, Biden changes his skin and aligns himself with former presidents Obama and Jimmy Carter denouncing not a demonstration of extremists, but a possible authoritarian drift in America, along the lines of those of the regimes in Eastern Europe: not surprisingly, Trump declares the his enthusiasm, tearing up diplomatic protocol, for the Hungarian leader Viktor Orban.

It is a political trend that many European analysts, particularly in Italy, struggle to understand: they are conservative or progressive, they are addicted to the political and institutional stability of the United States and mistake the current situation for a routine clash between parties. It is not so. In one of his editorial in the New York Times, former president Carter, 97, 2002 Nobel Peace Prize winner, denounces “I am afraid for our democracy”, as Obama declares “democracy risks more today than a year ago”. On December 17, three former generals, Paul Eaton, Antonio Taguba and Steven Anderson, in a municipality essay published in the Washington Post, warned colleagues still in uniform at the Pentagon “We are terrified of a possible military coup in 2024” citing veterans and active soldiers who soon took part in the blitz in Washington, one in ten demonstrators was a former member of the army, and General Thomas Mancino, still on duty, who rebelled against a direct order from President Biden on health policy, putting the Oklahoma National Guard at the service of the Republican governor, despite the Constitution making the president the supreme head of the military .

On the Republican side, only former President George W. Bush and Senator Romney seem, openly, to fear this possible authoritarian turn, while right-wing commentators, such as the popular Tucker Carlson who ponders his own run to the White House in 2024, mock the democrats. Florida Governor Ron De Santis, himself ready to run in three years, says January 6 is a Democratic carnival, despite the seven confirmed deaths that day, the chain of suicides among the policemen present, the dozens of arrests, the sentences inflicted on many demonstrators, dozens confessed guilty.

Trump wanted to convene a grand rally to observe, in his own way, “the great scam” of 2020, but the Republican general staff dissuaded him. He therefore limited himself to attacking Biden, insisting that the elections were falsified and giving support to the demonstrators of the time by proclaiming that “this political drama only serves to hide the total failure of the Biden administration”.

This is the state of affairs in America. Chinese President Xi Jinping, who cancels the rights to Hong Kong and besieges Taiwan, and Russian President Vladimir Vladimirovic Putin who threatens Ukraine and sends leather heads to Kazakhstan are well aware of this. Europeans are watching uncertain, on the one hand dependent on Russian energy, see controversial pipeline to Germany Nord Stream 2, partly deluding themselves that the US defense will cover them anyway, as in the times of the Cold War, unwilling to invest in expenses military and defense, betting, wrongly, that the status quo will be fixed without trauma.

The three years between now and the next elections, with a fragile and divided democratic leadership and a republican opposition hostage to the nationalists, will be difficult and uncertain. Founded in 1776, split by the Civil War in the nineteenth century, US stability has been able to mature for a long time, slowly and painfully freeing itself from the legacy of slavery, racism and oppression that had seen it born. The 1920s will be decisive for the country’s future, with a possible outcome of innovation and rights and a bleak one of chauvinism and authoritarianism. The defense of institutions will be long, harsh, uncertain and democracies around the world will depend on American choices.


Source: Huffington Post Italy Athena2 by www.huffingtonpost.it.

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