On January 6, thousands of supporters of Donald Trump, after a demonstration in support of the president, marched through Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. and entered the Capitol building1, trying to avoid the formalization of the electoral victory of Joe Biden. For a few hours they occupied, vandalized and looted parts of the building2. These events have been described as treason, insurrection or terrorism by the US media. However, a video shows how the attitude of the security forces was not as forceful as in other events of the opposite sign, as shown by some images collected at the scene3. How much of a blow to democracy or, on the contrary, is it a political “performance”?
The attempt to stop the formalization of Biden’s victory was promoted and encouraged by statements of Donald Trump, where he falsely affirmed that there had been electoral fraud in the 2020 elections4. In a demonstration on the same morning of the 6th, Dondald Trump Jr. and Rudy Giuliani incited their followers to “fight like hell” and “take our country back”5, encouraging them to march to the Capitol. Following subsequent events, which included five deaths, including that of a Capitol police officer, Trump initially resisted sending the National Guard against his followers, calling them “patriots” and encouraging them to “return home in peace”6 from his twitter account.
The reactions would not wait. Trump was forced to release a videotaped statement condemning the violence on Capitol Hill and advocating a “smooth and orderly transition of power,” after being persuaded to do so by Senator Lindsey Graham to stop threats of impeachment of a good part of the Republican senators7. More than 70 countries and international organizations expressed concern about the protests8 and condemned the violence, including some specific condemnations of Trump for inciting the revolt and calling it a “threat to democracy.” In addition, a second impeachment of Donald Trump was initiated as an inciter of “illegal actions against the Capitol”9, voting in favor with 232 votes to 197, for which the Senate will proceed to impeach the president.
There is no doubt that Trump based his mandate on putting back on the public debate and relegitimizing racist, sexist and ultra-liberal discourses, but it is also easy to fall into the temptation to be too happy about his departure and consider it “a solution”. And Joe Biden, a conservative Democrat, is not going to bring forward the progressive policies many expect. The new administration and certain Republican sectors seem to have taken advantage of the situation to build a story that reinforces the new figure of Biden, to justify the application of repressive and antisocial policies in the near future in the face of a health crisis that does not end and another economic crisis that is just beginning. As always, the only real victim will be the population.
1 https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-us-canada-55641714 2 https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-55575260 3 https://www.chron.com/news/nation-world/article/Police-let-mob-in-Capitol-attack-Trump-riot-15853548.php 4 https://www.bbc.com/news/55561877 5 https://www.bostonglobe.com/2021/01/06/metro/heres-what-trump-told-his-supporters-before-many-them-stormed-capitol-wednesday/ 6 https://thehill.com/homenews/administration/532976-trump-tells-rioters-go-home-we-love-you 7 https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2021/01/facing-legal-and-political-peril-trump-is-turning-on-even-his-most-devoted-allies 8 https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-55580806 9 https://edition.cnn.com/2021/01/13/politics/house-vote-impeachment/index.html