Argument

A Nation Under Attack

Trump takes one last bid at fulfilling his authoritarian dreams.
By
Zeyd Anwar
Founder and editor-in-chief of Res Publica
January 31, 2021
T

he United States Capitol has been stormed. Pro-Trump protestors have taken control of America’s legislative body. Shots have been fired. And now an armed-stand-off between police and protestors has ensued. “Never in a thousand years would I see such violence,” a BBC journalist said. But the water-shed moment that took place in Washington today is a natural conclusion of a tense four years—and of a president that has tapped into dark-forces in American politics.

Only a few hours before the assault, Trump continued his declaration that he had won the election fair and square, denounced his own Vice President for defying his command to nullify the election result, and had whipped up rage in his own supporters. “We’re going to walk down to the Capitol, and we’re going to cheer on our brave senators and congressmen and women…” Trump said. “But we’re not going to be cheering for some of them…you’ll never take back your country with weakness. You have to show strength and you have to be strong.” 

Trump’s words were the culmination of a four years of grooming the electorate. Since 2016, Trump has whipped up hatred, primed his supporters for electoral violence, and has seduced those citizens with a penchant for authoritarianism. What happened tonight was simply the culmination. Every extreme mainstream political movement has its beginnings. And every extreme mainstream political movement has its climaxes. Trumpism has been no exception. 

America’s allies and adversaries alike will be watching the chaotic scenes in Washington. Democracy was never meant to function this way. For the Chinese Communist Party, the believe in democracy as a system unfit for purpose will be reaffirmed. For Russia, the storming of Capitol will represent further disunity between the Western allies. And for North Korea, the sedition will represent new America, one that has failed to live up the very standards it accused others of violating.

America long spoke about how special it used to be. American exceptionalism espoused liberty before the law, that the United States was a beacon of democracy, and that it was an example for other nations to follow. This is no longer true. America once lectured other nations on electoral violence and anti-democratic movements. Little did they know that they would find it in their own backyard.

Zeyd Anwar is the founder and editor-in-chief of Res Publica
@zeydanwar

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