In shocking scenes unprecedented in US politics, pro-Trump rioters stormed the US Capitol as Congress convened to ceremoniously certify the Electoral College’s votes and confirm Joe Biden as the next US President. Four people are believed to have died as rioters fought with law enforcement, scaled the walls of the Capitol building, vandalized government property and disrupted the work of Congress. President Donald Trump cannot deny his role in fomenting this chaos. For weeks after losing the presidential election in November, he spread a flood of lies claiming victory and alleging widespread electoral fraud. He deliberately excited his base of radical right-wing supporters, with the aim of overturning the election result. It is difficult to describe this as anything other than a coup attempt.
That such scenes are taking place in the most powerful democracy in the world, in terms of hard power and soft power, is certainly bad news for democracies around the world. Naturally, this caused a shock among world capitals, while the Chinese Communist Party received an unexpected propaganda coup. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done well to quickly condemn the violence, saying the democratic process cannot be overthrown by illegal demonstrations.
Fortunately, the healthier voices of the Republican Party prevail, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Vice President Mike Pence condemning the subversion of the Democratic process. Despite his senior officials across US systems cutting across party lines and including Republican-appointed judges in the courts resisted Trump’s lies and called him out. If this is a testament to the strength of democratic institutions and the convictions of the Americas, it should also be noted that it has broken down. And this can only diminish America in the eyes of the world, while also being a source of comfort for authoritarian leaders like President Xi Jinping.
The good news is that Democrats are on track to secure a trio of Presidency, House and Senate majority after the second round results in Georgia. They should work to reform the American electoral system so that its processes cannot be questioned or challenged like Trump has just done. This is the only way to repair the damage caused to the prestige and reputation of the Americas in the world by this shameful unfolding of events. From now on, Pence should summon the 25e Amendment, declare Trump incompetent and immediately remove him.
This article appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.
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