The events at Capitol Hill will have great ramifications for US politics for a great time to come. The scenes that emerged from Washington DC were surreal and beggared belief. If 2020 was chaotic, then boy, 2021 is off to an absolutely turbulent start. What was even more shocking, to be fair, were the polls that emerged on the perception of the Capitol Hill anarchy.
Most would have been under the impression that there would be bipartisan consensus regarding the events that transpired. But despite unequivocal condemnation from incumbent US President Donald Trump, the Vice-President and all politicians and commentators in the media, there is significant support among Republicans for the storming of Capitol Hill.
45 per cent support what happened, 69% either believe there is not much to blame Donald Trump for or nothing to blame him for. On the contrary, an overwhelming majority of Democrats believe Trump is responsible for what happened 93% of them believe the protesters are a threat to Democracy. Such widespread disparity is not healthy for any country by any means.
There are also consequences that the Republican Party will have to suffer and it can be safely said that the people most uncomfortable from all of this are the Republican Establishment. Donald Trump is unlikely to be affected by the outcome in any manner.
Trump Presidency ends in Fire and Blood
Anyone who has been observing the Trump presidency would have always had it at the back of his mind that things could turn ugly pretty quick. Unhinged gaslighting from the mainstream media, the RussiaGate propaganda to delegitimize his political win and the legitimizing of left-wing rioting as ‘mostly peaceful protests’ was always going to have devastating impact on democracy in USA.
Therefore, it is hardly any surprise that it has come to this. There was just no way it could have ended on a positive note. The Trump base was told again and again that the election was stolen from their preferred candidate and that Joe Biden is an evil man. The incendiary political rhetoric did contribute to the anarchy that erupted at Capitol Hill.
When powerful elected representatives wish to delegitimize a president and oust him from power on flimsy excuses, they invent delusions such as Russian collusion. When ordinary people feel they have been disenfranchised and the election of a president is illegitimate, they engage in actions such as the ones we witnessed at Washington DC. In the end, four lives have been lost and the famed democracy of USA has been exposed for the sham it is.
To paraphrase a popular quote from Game of Thrones, if anyone thought this had a happy ending, they haven’t been paying attention.
Choices the Republican Party will have to make
It is widely known that Donald Trump was an anomaly even within the ranks of the Republican Party. The Republican establishment was never comfortable with Trump and the vision that he had for the country. A lot of them secretly hoped that after Trump goes away, they will go back to being the party of Bush and Romney.
A lot of them were perhaps even happy when Joe Biden defeated Trump in November 2020. There was very good chance that they could retain control of the Senate and would have a very good chance at taking back the House in 2022. Well, none of them are happy now.
The GOP can no longer return to being the party of Bush and Romney. The Republican base has no tolerance for such characters anymore. It is Trump’s party now and the Republican Party cannot hope to win any major election by ignoring the gigantic section of its base that cares deeply about illegal immigration and less wars.
It is also true that most of the elected representatives do not share the sentiments or concerns of the ordinary GOP voter. There is a reason why a maverick like Donald Trump was elected. It was because he voiced concerns of the electorate that had hitherto been ignored by the political establishment of both parties.
Unless those concerns are addressed, it is unclear how the party can move forward. Moreover, the party loss both the senate races in Georgia as well and with that, they have lost control of the Senate. It is believed that sections of the Republican did not turn up to vote and fringe figures such Nick Fuentes could be seen urging Trump voters to not vote for the Republican party.
There is also the fact that millions and millions of Trump supporters are convinced that the elections were stolen. They also believe that the incumbent president was betrayed by the Republican establishment. Will they turn up to vote red even if their concerns remain unaddressed? It appears extremely unlikely as of now but the future is uncertain and anything could happen.
The Progressives Conundrum
Amidst the chaos, let us not forget that there is an internal rebellion underway within the Democrat Party too. Only a couple of days ago, ‘Fraud Squad’ was trending on social media against ‘Squad members’ such as Alexander Ocasio-Cortez and Rashida Tlaib because a significant section of progressives believe they have been betrayed by the ‘Squad’ as the progressive elected representatives bowed down to Nancy Pelosi.
Progressives such as Jimmy Dore and others demanded that the ‘Squad’ withhold their votes that were extremely necessary for Nancy Pelosi to be reelected House Speaker unless she agreed to hold a Floor Vote for ‘Medicare for All’. And when the ‘Squad’ did not do so, they were labelled a fraud. It might not have been a huge episode in itself but it might be a sign of things to come.
Just as the Republican Party will be forced to undergo a churn, a similar fate awaits Democrats. Donald Trump as president, ironically as it sounds, acted as the glue that held the Democrat party together. As long as he was there, the Democrat establishment could afford to brush all their own follies under the carpet. They could afford to ignore all calls for introspection after Hillary Clinton’s defeat in 2016 by focusing all their energies on the ‘Big Bad Trump’.
“There’s no room for infighting! We have to defeat Russian puppet Putin stooge tyrannical fascist Donald Trump!” That was the official Democrat line. It afforded them the space to ignore the concerns raised by the Bernie Sanders section of the Democrat base. But with no Trump to act as glue, they will have finally have to address the elephant in the room.
The Road Ahead
Following the chaos at Capitol Hill, Facebook and Twitter removed posts by the US President. Facebook said Trump’s appeal for peace posed further risk of violence and Twitter proceeded to remove three of his tweets and locked him out of his account. The censorship of the incumbent US President reveals that censorship will pretty much be the norm going forward.
Progressives should be concerned with censorship as well. Today, it is the Conservatives but social media will eventually come for them as well, as Jimmy Dore pointed out. We are likely to witness further radicalization on both sides of the political divide in the immediate future. And as we have pointed out earlier, the next four years at the very least is most likely to be defined by intra party conflict within the Republican and the Democrat parties.
It should also not surprise anyone if there is a harsh crackdown on Trump supporters in the immediate aftermath of the storming of Capitol Hill. They are clearly despised section of the populace in the corridors of the power and many might have been only looking for an opportunity to hit them hard. But progressives should not be too happy about that either. Because a crackdown on them could immediately follow.