The Assault on the Congress and the political landscape in the US is immensely discussed in the American press. All sides seem to agree in a very deep divide between the main political parties that tend to treat each other as enemies rather than legitimate competitors for political power. This is reflected in a growing acceptance of political violence among the parties’ supporters, reflecting a great divide within the population and instability for the whole political system.
As for the US Foreign policy, a great loss of moral superiority is stated and questions are rise whether future President can pursue an active policy given the domestic polarization.
Here are some arguments from the American press.
POLITICAL CLASS FACES MISTRUST
Emily Jashinsky of The Federalist cites the interview that the brother of Ashli Babbitt, protester who was shot to death at the Congress, has given to the New York Times: “My sister was 35 and served 14 years — to me that’s the majority of your conscious adult life. If you feel like you gave the majority of your life to your country and you’re not being listened to, that is a hard pill to swallow. That’s why she was upset”.
As great parts of the population feels not being heard in Washington, “the political class faces the reality that a wide swath of decent, everyday Americans now trust fringe voices. The crucial first step towards a solution is acknowledging people have indeed been lied to, and their lack of trust is a reasonable response to bipartisan institutional failure.”
FOUNDATIONS OF CIVIC CULTURE WEAKENED OVER DECADES
Pippa Norris agrees on Foreign Affairs, stating “the foundations of American civic culture—trust in government, confidence in the political system, and support for democracy—have weakened over the decades”.
Norris also points a poll taken just before the riots, where 75 percent of those who voted for Trump said that he should not concede, and 88 percent believed that there was enough electoral fraud to change the outcome. Immediately after the Capitol was stormed, another poll found that 45 percent of Republicans approved of the attack, and only 27 percent of them considered it a threat to democracy.
RIVAL POLITICAL FACTIONS TOLERATE OR ENCOURAGE MOB VIOLENCE
For Michael Lind writing on Tablet, the United States faces “the slow-motion disintegration in its present form”. Lind connects two events, the establishment of a 24 days lasting quasi commune in Seattle past June with Democratic Party support and the police in retreat, and the assault on the Congress, concluding, “that leaders of both parties have weaponized anarchic mobs against their rivals”.
Lind identifies “Five Crises of the American Regime”, with the political crisis as both political parties treat each other as enemies to be eliminated since a long time, an identity crisis where a bipartisan American identity does not exist anymore, a social crisis with extreme individual isolation, a demographic crisis that supports mobilization and an economic crisis that favors political violence.
These crises have led to a situation where “rival elite political factions tolerate or encourage mob violence in the streets” and comparisons with Weimar Germany or late Roman Empire arise. A reconstruction of the US, “if it takes place”, will be “painstaking”, says Lind.
VIOLENCE JUSTIFIED TO ADVANCE POLITICAL GOALS: 1 IN 3 SAY IN SURVEY
Larry Diamond, Lee Drutman and others present their survey on Politico and detect a rising acceptance of political violence in the population. According to them:
• Among Americans who identify as Democrat or Republican, 1 in 3 now believe that violence could be justified to advance their parties’ political goals — a substantial increase over the last three years.
• In September 2020, 44 percent of Republicans and 41 percent of Democrats said there would be at least “a little” justification for violence if the other party’s nominee wins the election. Those figures are both up from June, when 35 percent of Republicans and 37 percent of Democrats expressed the same sentiment.
The authors propose the establishment of “an independent, bipartisan third force—a broad commission of distinguished leaders and democratic elders of both parties and of civil society (…) to reaffirm and defend our democratic norms”.
COLD WAR AND 9/11 RHETORIC REPEATED
Glenn Greenwald notes that politicians and media alike repeat a discourse well known from the Cold War and the aftermath of 9/11, indicating that a new “War on Terror”, this time on “domestic terrorists” has started.
Referring to calls to expel Senate and House Members who objected the election results from their institutions, the limitations of social media use and the call for general strong police presence, Greenwald warns “the draconian state powers clearly being planned and urged and prepared in the name of stopping them — carries its own extremely formidable dangers” and expects “this tactic” to continue well beyond January 20.
DEEP POLITICAL DIVIDE: DEMOCRATS “THREAT TO AMERICAN WAY OF LIFE”
Zack Beauchamp of Vox states, “the Capitol Hill mob was the logical culmination of years of mainstream Republican politics”, arguing that the Republican Party has for decades now believed and presented “the Democratic Party rule as an existential threat to America and by definition illegitimate”.
In political debates like Medicare, tax policies, arms ownership or the use of executive orders, Republican leaders starting with Ronald Reagan not only criticized their democratic adversaries but painted them in the conservative media as “Stalinists”, “Communists” threatening the ‘American Way of Life’, thus eventually even justifying armed resistance t government policies and revolutionary uprisings.
START DATE OF POST-AMERICAN ERA
Chairman of Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haas tweeted immediately after the events at the Capitol “if the post-US era has a start date, it is almost certainly today, adding the assault will an have “enormous foreign policy impact” with “persuading allies to rely on us and lecturing others” disabled for a long time.
US IMAGE IRREVOCABLY TARNISHED
Bruce Hoffman states on Council of Foreign Relations “until yesterday, many believed that the peaceful transition of power, the hallmark of U.S. governance for over two centuries, could never seriously be threatened. These events have undermined faith in the sanctity of American institutions and constitutional values. The U.S. image as a bastion of democracy, rule of law, and respect for institutions has perhaps been irrevocably tarnished.”
END OF AMERICAN EXCEPTIONALISM
Ishaan Taroor, titles the Washington Post newsletter with “The end of the road for American exceptionalism”, the theory that America was exception in the world history, destined to lead the rest of humanity, and supports his thesis that younger generations in the US had already abandoned hat belief for a long time.
CHINA NOW MORALLY SUPERIOR
Jude Blanchette comments on Foreign Policy that after the assault on the Congress, “gone are the days when the United States was seen by Beijing as the inarguably stronger negotiating party. (Now,) Chinese negotiators will sit across the table imbued with a moral sense of righteousness”.
US NEEDS AN OWN DEMOCRACY SUMMIT
James Goldgeier and Bruce W. Jentleson reject in Foreign Affairs the Biden-Plan of an international Democracy summit in the US and propose instead a national one, arguing that “Biden’s foreign policy agenda will likely depend on his administration’s ability to show U.S. allies and others that it can deliver the domestic support necessary for a robust internationalism.”
US NO LONGER INTERNATIONAL MODEL
Francis Fukuyama states in the American Purpose that the US has “abdicated the mission of promoting liberal democratic ideas around the world in recent years, and no longer provides a model to be emulated by others as its own institutions have succumbed to dysfunction.”