Capitol Hill: the rampage and takeawaystext_fields
Nothing is more difficult to imagine than that a US President had much in advance predicted that he would not accept the poll verdict if it went against him, and then true to word, post-poll and defeat incited his rank and file to make a shameful attack on Congress, an august body of representatives of 200 million plus strong electorate. And it was nothing short of shameful that on one untruth or the other, he could stall vote counting in more states than one, and disrupt the emergence of clear voting outcomes. And thanks to the peculiar, cumbersome, and rather illogical process of US polling results – where absent a prompt concession by candidate things turn awry - the American people, and the world, had to wait long to know who would command the world's biggest economy and political power.
Few incidents would gladden the seats of power in Moscow and Beijing, that can hardly boast of popular will being reflected in government or governance, than US democracy being put on a coma for four hours, only to recover from a traumatic puzzle of what went wrong. Little surprise then that Beijing was prompt to say, with ill-concealed glee, that it 'hopes the people in the US can enjoy peace'. But the most unkindest cut came from the Chinese themselves when they compared the events in Capitol building with the protests in Hong Kong – a comparison hard to comprehend. If the Hong Kong protests were a hugely popular clamour for basic democracy and civil rights, and not against political adversaries, the Washington DC scenes were of raiding a centre of government to protect one man's megalomania.
Nothing would be more difficult to believe that a mob of a few thousands could storm into Capitol building on the spur of some immediate incident. Planning was all through evident. The crowd that gathered, as reported by BBC among others, was made up of extreme far-right groups and supporters of fringe online conspiracy theories, eg, QAnon and the all-male stridently anti-immigrant Proud Boys. Social media did play a major role in mobilising the 'inspired' mass that met first for a pro-Trump rally and then for an onslaught on a structure and electoral outcomes.
Few questions are more inscrutable than why there was such a security breach in the Capitol, the heart of US government, when the entire America's elected representatives were inside mainly to seal the verdict of the American people, despite the backdrop of perceivable tension. Trump's supporters, not merely die-hard Republicans, were in for a free for all, roaming and ransacking all despite the 2000-strong security force present. And at the same time the unruly throng, all pro-Trump, were seen vandalising the facility and everything around in what will for long be debated as a serious security lapse.
And that included: sparse police deployment was easily overpowered by the crowds some even armed; some protesters, were as per subsequent videos, even escorted out by security, and what more, a police officer as per a BBC report posting for a selfie with a man inside amidst the chaos. CNN also quoted a familiar member of the far right Proud Boys, Nick Ochs as saying that amidst the thousands of people there, totally out of control, he was neither intercepted nor questioned. All this followed a call by the free-world's democratic ruler for four years - far from graceful in defeat and close to being ballot-boxed to throw in the towel – who did everything he could to force his loyalists into the hall where his defeat was to be formally sealed. And when around the same hour, news came that the Republicans lost two critical Senate seats in Georgia, making the Senate evenly balanced but the decisive casting vote lying with Democratic vice president Kamala Harris, that came as the added spur for mayhem. Many lawmakers were forced to take shelter on the floor and under seats before being escorted to safety. Of course, the leader later in an unbelievable backtracking, called for order and promised a peaceful transition.
And that President had, prior to taking office vowed to end American involvement elsewhere and to bring back US soldiers home – an eventuality millions of people across continents suffering from American troop presence would welcome. But he promised it and did partly deliver too, not because of the iniquity involved in such hegemony but because it was a losing bargain for the US: what did we gain, what did they give us in return, nothing- used to be his refrain. And when Trump did pull out forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, which even now is not complete, he still maintained his shrill outrage against Iran with no signals of stopping US engagement abroad. Not stopping there, he had been religiously backing the Zionist regime in Israel, perhaps the root cause of the cardinal West Asian crisis vis-à-vis the Palestinian question. Trump did what most US Presidents had stopped short of doing, in spite of the support some of them had lent to the Jewish nation in principle: recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to eastern Jerusalem. And his last 'good deed' came close to his leaving office, of tying up a few Arab countries, including UAE and Bahrain with Israel for formal relations including diplomatic ties, much against the will of the region and their people.
Finally, no other event in recent history would give so many takeaways for democracy. One, America, like many other democracies, is not immune to mobocratic distortion of democracy. For, it is nothing unusual for mutiny to be triggered in democracies when duly elected governments overrun the mandate and go for anti-people measures under majority decision, but not right decisions. Two, democracies are exposed to the threat of overturning of orderly poll results too. Three, the politically virile segment of the US, is not that demure and decorous a variety when it comes to accepting the rival that legitimately wins – the soul of democracy. Four, even leaders who the world by and large do not approve of, can get elected and even come close to being re-elected. Finally, despite all physical assaults on bastions of democratic rule, ultimately it survives as the least evil among all available forms of government.