The world is still trying to come to terms with the images of thousands of Trump supporters on Wednesday invading the United States of America’s seat of legislative power, the Capitol.
Many dressed in camouflage fatigues, some carrying arms and battering rams broke into the iconic building, climbed walls, threatened police, and even entered the Congress chambers where the US senators were debating the endorsement of Joe Biden as the US’ 46th President.
The world’s most powerful nation that often lectures smaller, poorer countries on democracy and non-violent transition based on the vote, found itself naked as President Donald Trump egged on his supporters to violently reverse the mandate of the people. Fearing impeachment, Trump is now calling for ‘healing’ and ‘peace’; but let nobody forget it was Trump who had called for an uprising to overturn the electoral college decision. “Statistically impossible to have lost the 2020 Election. Big protest in DC on January 6. Be there, will be wild,” was his call on December 20.
It had all the elements of a fascist mobilization - confederate flags, white supremist slogans - aimed at undoing the democratic process by force. What was also evident was the pussy-footing of the state machinery. The same Police that had gone after the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, was conspicuously absent despite the open call for what Biden dubbed “an insurrection”.
Fascism’s last gasp
But now that the dust is settling, let us understand the assault on the Capitol was no ‘revolution’.It was the dying gasp of a reactionary, right wing that had been defeated in its machinations. Hundreds of court filings against Biden’s ballots had been rejected; and even Republican governors had stood up and refused to be threatened into not certifying the results of the ballot box. To overawe lawmakers and prevent them from endorsing Biden was the final gambit. And that too failed.
There is great significance in Trump’s last stand. The decisive vote for Joe Biden was a major course correction for America. Millions of blacks, Hispanics and other minorities joined traditional Democratic supporters to reject racism and white supremacy. The cities overwhelmingly voted with Joe Biden against anti-immigration laws and xenophobia.
It was as if the steady march towards a fascist state had been nixed just in time. To understand the course America has chosen, one must also understand the significance of the victory in Georgia for the Democrats. In two run-off elections for the Senate, Democrat Jon Ossoff beat David Perdue (R) while Afro-American Reverend Raphael Warnock defeated sitting Republican senator Kelly Loeffler. Both were wafer-thin wins.
Georgia cleans the Senate
Georgia, a deep-South state, is the first of the old Confederate states to elect a Afro-American senator. Ossoff and Warnock will be the first Democrats elected to the Senate from Georgia in 20 years. Perdue
is a rich billionaire while Loeffler had a successful career on Wall Street. Compared to these two sitting Republicans, the two Democratic Party winners had ordinary pasts - Ossoff a documentary filmmaker and Warnock a pastor.
More importantly, Georgia’s voters have taken away the Senate from the Republicans. The Jon Ossoff and Warnock wins have wiped out the Republican Senate majority and brought the ratio to 50 seats each for the two parties. In the case of a tie, Vice President Kamala Harris has the casting vote that will ensure that every Cabinet or judicial appointment, and every financial decision by the President does not have to run the Republican gauntlet.
In the immediate, the Biden administration can go ahead with the promised $2,000 cheques for the millions trapped in the pandemic’s downturn; in the long-term, legislation for climate change, health benefits and reversing the criminalization of immigrants can sail through more easily. “Winning the presidency took our country back from the brink of fascism.
Now, we have the chance to move an agenda that actually changes people’s lives,” a CNN reporter was told by Jess Morales Rocketto, a leader of the National Domestic Workers Alliance, that ran the largest voter contact programs in Georgia. On the national stage, Joe Biden is a ‘moderate’ Democrat and has little in common with his early Democrat, left-wing challenger Bernie Sanders. However, the votes that lifted Biden — the mass Afro-American and Hispanic turnout, immigrant groups and women — will push him to a more left liberal course than he originally envisaged.
For instance, on taxes, health care, climate change, human and labour rights, Joe Biden has proposed a significantly larger government role than both Hillary Clinton did in her 2016 presidential bid, and before her Barack Obama in his two terms. Biden’s election manifesto envisages tax and spending increases equivalent to 1.5 per cent of the US GDP, more than double the level Mrs. Clinton advocated four years ago. The backlash in the form of Right Wing consolidation under Donald Trump’s leadership
can only be expected. But hopefully a dose of liberalism and education may make Trumpism irrelevant forever.