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The assault on the Capitol has a particular connotation. The severity of hordes violating the most important historical building in the United States carries more weight than any other episode. There is no comparison. This January 6, 2021, goes down in history as one of the darkest episodes in the history of this great Republic.
Trump himself also hit the headlines. He won’t be, however, portrayed as all of us who support him so much (and despite so much) would have liked it to be. His successful economic management, his brilliant foreign policy and his courageous crusade against the left and the heavy and parasitic bureaucracy of Washington DC -all these being remarkable and unquestionable victories- end up tarnished by a shameful spectacle that began in the early morning of November 4th and today finds its culmination in the most monstrous harassment of American institutions that my generation and many previous ones have seen.
But this Wednesday shouldn’t upset anyone. We would be foolish not to understand it. It’s the consequence of more than four years of building a very dangerous narrative. The vindication of the Schmittian dilemma that starts from the conflict as the engine of the times. It was not only Trump who was the driving force. It was also the media. It was the big technology companies. It was the elites of the big cities.
The media have been increasing polarization for years. They have profiled Trump’s supporters as enemies and ignorant. They have also marginalized and censored Trumpism, as if they were all racist, xenophobic and uneducated. They have consciously insulted millions of Americans.
And that hatred has given birth to more hatred. One is the consequence of the other. Again, this January 6th is not surprising. It was what was supposed to happen in the face of the drift that Trump’s campaign has been in for the past few weeks. And the tension is understandable: both sides are convinced of the impossibility of their adversary’s victory. Both sides are convinced that their defeat will lead to the collapse of the United States. That’s why the Democrats don’t give space to the President’s justified allegations of fraud. That’s why the President and his supporters are clinging to allegations of fraud that won’t succeed.
This tension has been escalating. The Democrats were bent on despising the millions of Trump supporters who only demanded that their doubts about the rather murky election process be resolved. And Trump’s supporters decided that they would never give up the presidency, even if the fraud was not proven and was dismissed by formerly key allies of the White House (like the Attorney General, the conservative majority on the Supreme Court, or Vice President Mike Pence himself).
Finally, on the eve of the congressional meeting, we saw the most delirious gestures of madness. They were the prelude to the assault on the Capitol. A completely deranged Lin Wood began asking Georgia voters to take away their support for the Republican candidates for the Senate, then pointed out everyone in the Republican Party as traitors; and proposed the execution of Vice President Mike Pence, whom she called a pedophile and a Communist.
It was Trump who, a few hours ago this Wednesday, called Georgia’s Secretary of State, Republican Brad Raffensperger, to pressure him to help reverse the results in the state.
And finally we come to this January 6th. The President calls thousands of supporters to a rally in front of the White House. Under the harsh winter, Trump speaks. He tells everyone, “I will never concede.” They applaud. Then, Trump announces, “We will march to the Capitol to demand that the Congressmen do the right thing.” The rest is portrayed in an overwhelming photograph taken by Leah Millis for Reuters: the Capitol on fire; giant banners reading “TRUMP 2020.”
Everything came together for the world to witness in horror the shameful spectacle. It was the media and its irresponsible coverage of these last four years. It was the Democratic Party, with radicals threatening to put together lists of their enemies. It was the big technology companies and their unacceptable censorship. It was the wounds still burning from the violence that drove Antifa and Black Lives Matter last summer. It was the draconian policies taken by Democratic governments in response to the pandemic. It was the delirious spiral of irrationality into which Trump’s campaign was plunged after the November 3rd election.
The perfect storm on Capitol Hill. The present is tragic, the future is not encouraging. But yet the United States is still standing, and that is something to celebrate.
Orlando Avendaño is the co-editor-in-chief of El American. He is a Venezuelan journalist and has studies in the History of Venezuela. He is the author of the book Days of submission // Orlando Avendaño es el co-editor en Jefe de El American. Es periodista venezolano y cuenta con estudios en Historia de Venezuela. Es autor del libro Días de sumisión.