ISSN 2330-717X

The Consequences Of The Capitol Hill Attack Will Resonate With The US For Years To Come – OpEd

By

About a year ago, on such days, a terrible earthquake shook US politics; a group of supporters of then-President Donald Trump attacked Congress disrupting a joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives to count the electoral votes and officially declare Biden’s victory. Unprecedented in American political history, this event shows the depth of the political divide in society, the weakness of legal mechanisms, and the lack of trust of ordinary people in the elite. This attack, which practically targeted the heart of American democracy, reflects the fact that the US political and electoral system can no longer meet the demands of its citizens and the pluralism that exists in this country.

Advertisement

The events of January 6, 2021, were so tragic for the American souls that a year later, four police officers who were at the heart of the incident committed suicide and lost their lives. On the other hand, among the population of two thousand and five hundred attackers, there were people with different political tendencies, as well as government employees and police forces. The fact that these people were also present in the attack is one of the points that makes the issue very critical.

In general, this problem can be viewed from three perspectives: socio-political divide, public distrust of political elites, and inefficiency of the political system. Concerning the social and political divide, one can mention the numerous confrontations that took place not between the people and the government, but between two specific groups of US citizens. In these confrontations, which are mainly over sensitive issues such as racial conflicts, we see groups of people who have fundamentally different worldviews and line up against each other. These citizens get involved not only out of fleeting emotions but with the help of their ideology. In other words, pro-white supremacist groups, which are practically the same as the former racists and supporters of the “proud boys”, have been using their freedom of expression in the United States for years to propagate their ideas and recruit members. It was these groups that seized the opportunity when Trump came to power and supported him in the presidency, and marched in support of whites, including in Charlottesville. In contrast, there are black rights groups, such as the anti-fascist Antifa, which founded the “Black Lives Matter” movement and staged demonstrations across the United States. These street campaigns were accompanied by violence on both sides, and due to the freedom to carry weapons, in many cases, it turned into a kind of street war, killing people on both sides, as well as innocent people.

The manifestation of this social divide can be seen in politics and the confrontation between politicians of both parties. Also, citizens are defining new identities outside of the traditional Republican-Democratic dichotomy. In other words, American citizens, and consequently American parties and politicians, are being divided into three groups. First, those who consider the existing category sufficient and do not see the need to change it. The second group is those who, in order to confront the rivals, are drawn to the most extreme layers of the spectrum on both sides and strongly polarize the issues. The third group, however, is a group that seeks to break the current stalemate and demand an alternative. Although all three groups have their own impact and scope, this is the third group that is emerging from the existing polarization and is attracting fans. In fact, people like Tulsi Gabbard, a former Iraq war veteran and former member of Congress, can be considered one of the leaders of this third movement, which is shaping a new kind of politics in this country by combining elements from both major US parties. 

The situation is even more complicated when it comes to people’s distrust of America’s political elite. This deterioration can be seen in opinion polls on the performance of presidents, as well as citizens’ confidence in the political system as a whole. Biden’s popularity has now reached around 40 percent, which is very worrying. According to opinion polls, the level of pride in being American has declined from 90 percent in the turbulent years of the early 2000s to 54 percent now. These numbers, along with the increase in citizens’ violent actions against the government, which culminated in the Capitol Hill attack, indicate the growing distance of citizens from the rulers. The consequences of this distance can be very costly. In other words, if American policymakers fail to channel these grievances quickly, in the near future, and especially in the midst of electoral disputes, dissidents will take actions that are unprecedented in American history.

Finally, it should be noted the inefficiency of the political system has made citizens think that they should take things into their own hands. In other words, the attack on Capitol Hill reflected the fact that a group of citizens does not even hesitate to attack and conquer the heart of the country’s legislation to make practical and tangible changes, and they believe that the current mechanism does not meet their needs. According to the Washington Post, 34 percent of those polled believe that the use of force and violence against the government is sometimes perfectly acceptable and legitimate. Such an approach indicates the existence of a kind of anarchic spirit that has arisen due to the inefficiency of the ruling system in the people and has led them to civil disobedience as well as a direct confrontation with the government.

Advertisement

Thus, in light of the points made, it can be said that American democracy has never faced such an existential threat, and in the absence of a proper solution by the political elite. This danger has become more serious, and the attack on Congress last year showed that it can have irreparable consequences. In other words, what is happening under the skin of society is so serious that the former president, who witnessed serious international crises and developments during his presidency, also felt very dangerous and warned about it. Perhaps, as the famous American philosopher Chomsky said, there is a soft coup going on in America.

*Greg Pence is an international studies graduate of University of San Francisco

Greg Pence

Greg Pence is an international studies graduate of University of San Francisco.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.