As I sit at my desk searching for the words to describe the events of yesterday and convey my emotions towards them, I find myself truly dumbfounded. Firstly, let’s be clear, the events of last night were a failed Coup d’état. Watching live as the Capitol building was enveloped in tear gas, attempting to disperse the thousands of Pro-Trump supporters swarming the steps of the heart of US Government is one of the many images that is characteristic of the disaster that has been Trump’s presidency. I call it a coup because it categorically set out to disrupt and delegitimise the incoming administration led by Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. A coup can simply be described as “a violent and illegal seizure of power from a government.”
Whilst the right-wing trump supporters attempted this by storming the grounds of the Capitol, it is more than important to acknowledge the attempts by those elected officials within Government that have consistently spued false claims of election fraud and disrupted the transition of power over to President-elect Joe Biden. These are two sides to the same coin; without the instigation by leaders of the Republican Party and President Trump, we would not have seen the chaos that ensued across Capitol Hill. Whilst many are disengaged and dismissive of the consistent, hyperbolic rhetoric churned out by President Trump, yesterday’s events make it desperately clear that many of his supporters are unwavering in their support and act on his command. He lit the fuse to a bomb of his own design that has now left American democracy in shatters.
It has been mused in the past that President Tump’s Government is fascist in nature and, whilst I have believed this for the most part of his tenure in office, yesterday’s events leave me with no doubt. As I look back throughout history to begin to make sense of such an event, I’m astonished at the similarities between yesterday’s coup and the Beer Hall Putsch in 1923 (just switch out a few key names, dates and phrases in this History.com article and you’ll see my point).
Yesterday was a blatant display of white privilege that continues to rot the core of American society. As protesters wondered the hallways of the Capitol, sitting at the dais of the senate chamber, or putting their feet up at Nancy Pelosi’s desk, one begins to wonder if these protests were black what sort of scenes we would be watching. One only has to look back at the shocking scenes from this summer to begin to get an idea. Instead, protesters brandishing Confederate flags, MAGA hats and neo-Nazi t-shirts, were effectively let in by Police in what has got to be the largest US security breach since 9/11 – though, I doubt the US response will be as damning to the leaders of this terrorist incident.
Of course, you cannot ignore the glaring sense of irony surrounding the whole incident. Like much of Mr. Trump’s presidency, yesterday’s events are doused in hypocrisy. From the reaction by law enforcement towards the protesters; the catalogue of tweets by Trump that are laughably applicable to the actions of the protestors; to the protesters themselves who undoubtedly chanted “Blue Lives Matter” months ago now seen chasing down those same blue lives they so vehemently protected just months ago. Once again we are shown that blue lives matter is easily translated to black lives don’t.
Whilst I wish I could say this will be the peak for America, and that the President-elect will unite the deeply divided country and begin to rebuild what’s left of a flailing state and government, I’m highly doubtful. Unity cannot come without some form of recognition of deeply rooted, institutional problems that plague American society. Biden represents one half of America that wishes to re-establish the ‘true America’, whilst the other half scream “make America great again.” This false binary only serves to leave an unaccounted and somewhat insidious hole in the middle of the US politics, a hole so gaping it is beginning to eat American democracy alive. Yesterday, we saw it take a large bite.
By Alex Storey
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