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Jacob Anthony Chansley, known as Jake Angeli, became the symbol of the assault on Washington’s Congress. He is in prison and will face charges of insurrection.
The assault on the US Congress by the militiamen sent by Trump with the intention of interrupting the peaceful transition of power in the United States poses a threat not only to American democracy but to all democracies around the globe. This is how it felt around the world. There was a stupor in the majority and some rejoicing in those who defend the personalist autocracies. The American identification with the global defense of democracy was in doubt. The images of the furious horde desecrating the sacred symbols, the Confederate flag of the slavers flying in the hall of the heroes, the five dead, showed the fragility of the system. And it gave impetus to the global populist current that despises those concepts that launched this question: After what happened in the Washington Capitol: Does the United States have the moral stature to come talk to us about democracy?
French President Emmanuel Macron felt that threat as if France had suffered an assault on the Assemblée Nationale. “A universal idea – that of ‘one person, one vote’ – is undermined”Macron said in a speech that began in French and ended in English. “The temple of American democracy was attacked.” An idea shared in much of the planet. In a note posted on Foreign Policy, Professor Emma Ashford, Principal Investigator of the Atlantic Council, argued: “The ambitious goals of foreign policy are completely out of step with the realities of the country’s internal political and economic dysfunction… How can the United States spread democracy or serve as an example for others if it barely has a democracy that works at home? ” James Goldgeier, professor of the American University, and Bruce Jentleson of the Duke university, called on President-elect Joe Biden to abandon his proposal for an international summit for democracy and hold one at the national level instead. Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, he lamented on Twitter that “It will be a long time before we can credibly advocate for the rule of law in other countries.”
There were just a few hours of riots, that same night the House of Representatives was already meeting again to ratify Joe Biden as the new president. But the images struck a chord in fractured Western societies, particularly those who fight against authoritarian populism and the extreme right. Those who oppose the rise of autocrats in Hungary and Poland, the resurgence of neo-Nazi forces in Italy and Germany. Also, those who face the brutality of leaders such as Vladimir Putin, Recep Tayyip Erdogan or Xi Jinping, the Chinese leader – who offered the world his model of a vigilante state to control the pandemic while crushing the democratic protests in Hong Kong- . And the Latin Americans who fight for the end of the regimes of characters such as Nicolás Maduro, Jair Bolsonaro or Daniel Ortega.
Soldiers of the National Guard inside the US Capitol, to prevent further unrest before the inauguration of the new president, Joe Biden.
“These images were shocking for European societies,” he told the New York Times the political scientist Jacques Rupnik. “Even when the United States was no longer the beacon on top of a hill, it was still the pillar that sustained European democracy and extended it eastward after the Cold War,” he added. German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “Angry and sad” because of what happened in Washington. Germans, for whom the United States was the postwar liberal democratic savior, protector and model, viewed with particular dismay Trump’s attempts to subvert the democratic process and the rule of law.
Polarization, violence, social disintegration and economic difficulties are universal. Hundreds of millions of people out of the honeys of globalization and the scientific-technological revolution. All that creates resentment and hatred. The coronavirus pandemic exacerbated that anxiety and mistrust in the government. The Trump hosts express that same sentiment in a brutal state. This caused many in the world to come to identify with those who stormed the Capitol. Twitter was populated with trending topics saluting those in disguise who chased the congressmen through the tunnels that connect the central building with their offices. Jacob Anthony Chansleyaka Jake Angeli, the guy who showed up with a huge horned buffalo head, became the image of disgrace and also the hero of social media.
In Germany, the press and the leaders of most democratic parties saw it differently. It reminded them of the Reichstag fire in 1933, that allowed Hitler and the Nazis to destroy the fragile Weimar democracy that brought them to power. A cold air on the back that swept through eastern Europe. Even Trump supporters like Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis tried to detach themselves from what happened in Washington. Babis immediately changed his Twitter profile picture of one that showed him with a red baseball cap with the symbol of MAGA (Make America Great Again, of the trumpistas) and the phrase ‘Strong Czechia’ (Strong Czech Republic), to one that shows him with a chinstrap with motifs of the Czech flag.
The Prime Minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babis, an admirer of Trump, hastened to download this photo from social networks and detach himself from a character that is already uncomfortable even for the autocratic populists of the world.
“It would be wrong to conclude that our current humiliation means that the United States somehow lost its position to speak out for democracy and human rights globally, or that these ideals are less compelling because of our domestic problems. All the oppositeo, ”argues Thomas Wright, del Brookings Institute, in an essay published in The Atlantic. “Our situation shows that the United States has a real interest in that fight. Repairing democracy at home is not incompatible with defending democracy abroad; they are mutually reinforcing. Threats to democracy are not unique to our country. Trump is part of a global nationalist-populist movement that benefits from international networks of kleptocracy, misinformation and corruption. As Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren pointed out during the Democratic presidential primaries, eliminating these networks is a necessary prerequisite for restoring democracy and the rule of law at home.
“Many of the long-term threats to democracy disinformation and the lack of a truth objective, political interference from China and Russia, inequalities in the world economy, and fears about interdependence and globalization can only be addressed collectively”Wright wrote.
Trump’s damage to American democracy is profound. And it is very legitimate to wonder if Washington can continue to issue calls to comply with precepts undermined by their own leaders. But you cannot confuse the values with their detractors.
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