By Zhang Tengjun (Global Times, 10 January 2021) – The peaceful transfer of power has always been pivotal to US democratic tradition. However, when lawmakers on Wednesday met to confirm president-elect Joe Biden’s poll win, President Donald Trump’s violent supporters breached the Capitol in Washington DC. It is reported that four died as Trump supporters invaded Capitol, including one woman who was shot to death. As a response, Washington has an imposed curfew. The international community has burst into an uproar.
Even though the US has boasted itself as a beacon of democracy, it has never been a paradigm of global democracy. The US political system has many problems, most of which have exploded since Trump took office. By virtue of his power, Trump has vandalized the US democratic system. This demonstrates that the US system is very fragile.
Washington is encountering grave domestic problems. Over the past four years, contradictions in terms of politics, economics, society and race have exploded. The US is deeply divided right now, with severe racial and partisan rivalries. If these cannot be properly mended, it will end with conflicts. Against this background, the turmoil on Wednesday might not be viewed as surprising, to some extent.
This fully demonstrates that the US democracy to some extend doesn’t work the way it used to.
The turmoil on Wednesday may only be a beginning. It could be followed by a large-scale riot. Law and order in Washington will be gravely disrupted.
The chaos in Washington is directly linked to the instigation of Trump who told his supporters to “never give up” and “never concede.” When these pro-Trump extremists broke into the Capitol, Trump tweeted calling for peace. This is just a disguise. The more chaotic, the better, as Trump hoped.
Under such circumstances, it remains unknown if power can be smoothly transferred on January 20 and whether Biden can successfully be sworn in.
So far, there has been no military clash, and possibility is low for the breakout of a revolution. But the chaos is more serious than the racial protests last summer. This time, the protesters breached such important venues as the Capitol building, with both symbolic and destructive impacts. Whether the chaos can be eased will be determined by whether or not the two parties can reach consensus.
According to US media reports, six Republican senators and 121 House Republicans voted against Biden’s win in Arizona. Still, the House and Senate overwhelmingly rejected the attempt to object to the presidential election results in Arizona.
These Republicans are firm Trump supporters who attach their interests tightly with him. By helping Trump stay in power, they are also seeking their own agendas. Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley are potential Republican candidates for the 2024 presidential election. They intend to exploit the opportunity to accumulate some reputation and resources to realize the election ambitions four years later.
This also indicates the serious division between the two parties in the US. These senators naturally oppose the election of a Democratic president due to their party positions. Even the Electoral College count is a normal democratic procedure, and they still want to challenge it. This is a continuation of the partisan confrontation and struggle.
Judging from the Georgia Senate Election results, the Democrats currently have taken control of the two houses. Biden is unlikely to become a “lame duck” president, but his ruling will be full of difficulties. Republicans may obstruct his administration in areas such as legislation. The incoming president will have to face a tough domestic environment, especially a deep division between the two parties that is hard to bridge. This will pose a daunting challenge to Biden. So far, he has not yet shown his ability that he can bridge divisions and prevent escalating conflicts. Therefore, the prospect for Biden’s time in office is not optimistic.
The last-ditch madness of the Trump administration will further tear apart US politics. The US politics in general will continue to become more conservative.
Mohamad Safa, a permanent UN representative from Lebanon tweeted on Wednesday, “If the United States saw what the United States is doing in the United States, the United States would invade the United States to liberate the United States from the tyranny of the United States.”
The US has long shown two faces: It claims to practice so-called democracy internally while implanting hegemony outside the US. Even if the US is suffering chaos, it won’t give up interference in international affairs and other countries’ politics. This is the nature of US hegemony. The US will continue its unilateralism and hegemonism.
The author is an assistant research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies. [email protected]