Lwill democracy in the United States change gender? Go from the liberal type to the illiberal type? The first anniversary of the January 6, 2021 insurgency against Capitol Hill, the seat of Congress and the heart of democracy in America, flirted with this question. Challenged by Russia and China, the United States would be plagued by “an internal evil” perhaps even more worrying: the regression of its system of government.
At 97, Jimmy Carter, the 39e president (1977-1981), takes up the pen. In the twilight of his life on this earth, the old Baptist did not lose his faith. Corn « [il a] fear for democracy in America ”, he said. In a forum entrusted on January 5 to the New York Times, he observes a deep movement, something that nothing seems to have to stop. Over the years, Americans’ loss of confidence in their institutions has accelerated. The subtle mechanism of powers and checks and balances, characteristic of liberal democracy as desired by the founding fathers of the American union, is contested.
On January 6, 2021, Donald Trump, defeated in the presidential election of November 3, 2020, summons his supporters to Washington, on the Mall – not a temple of shopping, but the grassy esplanade that borders the White House, Congress and the Supreme Court, this sacred institutional trilogy of the oldest of Western democracies. A place rich in symbols.
Denial of reality
Trump has been calling for this protest for weeks. This has one object: to intimidate Congress. The defeated president must leave the White House in the days that follow. He wants to rot the ceremony of certification by lawmakers of the November 2020 election results – maybe even prevent it. In front of his followers, he repeats the big canards he has been carrying out for weeks. He was stolen the election, he won, Joe Biden lost, the Democrats rigged the counts. You have to walk on the Capitol.
We know the rest: the assault, the elected officials threatened, the vandalism – and seven deaths. For three hours, Trump watches (on television), without reacting. Certification will take place. All the judicial bodies seized since November 3, 2020 have concluded that the ballot is regular. Trump is sent back to his miserable electric cart from the golf course of Mar-a-Lago, his Spanish-Moorish property in Florida.
Trumpism should not have survived the shameful day of January 6, 2021, which should have marked its “Swan song”, says political scientist Maya Kandel. Only here, a year later, observes Jimmy Carter, “The promoters of lies ensure the control of a political party and stir up mistrust with regard to our institutions”. As a result, two-thirds of the Republican electorate consider Joe Biden to be an illegitimate president.
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