The trivialization of the anti-democratic movement

At the end of 2021, the conclusion is obvious. Of the Trump years, there remains the legacy of a fractured society. An inertia which led to 800,000 deaths. A Supreme Court that is unraveling the legal framework woven over the past decades. From the Biden years (until now), we will retain the notion of continuity rather than that of rupture: continuity in the tensions with China, continuity of “America first”, continuity in the management of immigration.

But what prevails above all is the trivialization of the abnormality. The normalization of pandemic waves. Disruptions in supply chains. The volatility of border regimes. From the erosion of democratic institutions.

In this current of trivialization appear the events of January 6, 2021. Even if the parliamentary commission of inquiry of the House of Representatives on January 6 gathers and puts end to end information, documents, testimonies to try to draw a portrait of what really happened that day, memories are gradually fading.

Not so long ago – at the start of this millennium, perhaps – his work would have resonated with the Watergate Inquiry. But this is no longer the case … As if the democratic model had grown weary of itself, as if public opinion had developed a form of resistance to indignity, as if probity was necessarily becoming partisan. To the point where fewer and fewer Americans understand the interest in the state sanctioning those involved in the riot. A third of Americans are not even aware of the work of this commission, and the majority of those who are aware of it doubt the correctness of the resulting conclusions.

However. It is indeed a crowd galvanized by incendiary harangues from disappointed and fallen actors who launched an assault on the Capitol on January 6. A crowd shouting for the hanging of Mike Pence, he who, in a democratic burst, had chosen not to question the certification of the votes of the great voters (is it necessary to repeat, again at this stage, that no investigation , NONE, established the existence of a massive fraud?). It was this crowd that openly displayed the flags of far-right organizations (Oath Keepers and Three Percenters militias, Boogaloos and Proud Boys groups) and the symbols of thealt-right. This crowd, sometimes armed, sometimes violent, sometimes murderous.

However, among those who desperately texted the White House on January 6, as shown by the documents to which the committee had access, begging the president to intervene, were Fox News stars Laura Ingraham, Sean Hannity and Brian Kilmeade; the president’s son himself; and parliamentarians, trapped in the precincts of parliament. However, since then, they have accepted, supported, promoted the idea that the election was stolen, they have minimized the repercussions of the events.

Would they be right? Was January 6 an epiphenomenon? Did it act as a valve? Or was it rather a warning shot? The sign of the normalization of the antidemocratic movement that would confirm and strengthen the disinterest of some and the inertia of others?

This is why, with the powers of investigation conferred on it by the constitutional regime, the commission tries to understand the extent, the planning and the context of the assault on the Capitol. Why did the president not intervene earlier? What role did the White House play (or not)? Why are there traces of calls in which Trump’s campaign team allegedly asked lawmakers if they were prepared to support new certification procedures?

To do this, the committee sought to obtain communications from the former government (all documents relating to the presidency are in principle archived with the National Archives and Records Administration), not without encountering opposition from the former government. president and his entourage. However, in the analysis of the context, an event holds the attention of lawmakers: what happened during the meeting which took place the day before at the Willard Hotel in Washington? Why, during this meeting, did Steve Bannon announce that the wrath of hell would befall the capital the next day? Why is he refusing to testify before Congress, to the point of being dragged into court (the trial will take place next summer)? What role did Mark Meadows (Trump’s chief of staff) play, and why did he circulate a 38-page document that day setting out the various ways to reverse the election outcome? In other words, was there a real desire to change the course of history, to overturn the elections, to create the conditions for a coup d’etat … very far from a spontaneous riot?

Have we entered a “post-democratic reality” (as stated The Atlantic this month, or the Washington Post yesterday)? Is there a risk of crossing a point of no return (as stated in an article published this week in the journal PNAS, entitled “Polarization and Tipping Points”). The normalization of democratic erosion in the ranks of the Republican Party goes hand in hand with the fact that 66% of its supporters believe that the elections were stolen. And it is in this state of mind, between anxiety and paranoia, that the election year 2022 begins.

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