Democracy under attack


THE United States was among those countries of the world that were often cited as an example of how democracy works but what happened in the US Capital on Wednesday forced neutral observers to remark ‘this is how democracy dies’. In scenes that shocked not just democracy lovers in the United States but the world over, violent mob loyal to US President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol on Wednesday and forced lawmakers into hiding, in a stunning attempt to overturn America’s presidential election, undercut the nation’s democracy and keep Democrat Joe Biden from replacing Trump in the White House.
Given the clear majority secured by President-elect Joe Biden, it is unlikely that the violent protest would, in any way, help the incumbent President Donald Trump realize his plans of sticking to the office but the kind of tactics used for the purpose would continue to haunt people of the United States for a long time to come. There have been objections to polls in the past as well but those were settled while remaining within the parameters of democratic norms and principles but it was for the first time that curfew had to be imposed, lawmakers who gathered to formally certify Biden’s victory over Trump in the November 3 election, had to be evacuated because of safety concerns and protestors physically stormed and occupied the Capitol before they were brought under somewhat control. It was all the more ironic that the entire episode, which would be seen as a black spot in democratic history of the nation, had tacit approval of the incumbent President, who, in fact, provoked his supporters at storming the building that served as a tall symbol of democracy. The situation deteriorated to such an extent that a protesting woman was killed inside the Capitol after gunfire erupted momentarily and there were also reports of other injuries.
Trump watched the situation on television screens inside the White House before he was persuaded to issue an appeal for calm to his supporters but the use of words conveyed the impression he was doing so without conviction. The mob’s storming of Congress prompted bipartisan outrage, mostly from Democrats but from Republicans as well, as lawmakers accused Trump of fomenting the violence with his relentless falsehoods about election fraud. It is noteworthy that Trump is continuing with his rhetoric about electoral fraud despite the fact that all the states have certified their results as fair and accurate, by Republican and Democratic officials alike. The US allies were also hurt over disgraceful scenes in US Congress with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson emphasizing that the United States stands for democracy around the world and it is now vital that there should be a peaceful and orderly transfer of power. That might ultimately happen on January 20 but events surrounding the presidential election leave much to ponder over the underlying causes and how to prevent the replay in future.

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