A Dark Day for American Democracy | Dr. Rakib Ehsan

In one of the darkest days for the United States in recent political history, supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol in an astonishing assault on the heart of American democracy.

By playing a central role in a severely disruptive transfer of power in a major Western liberal democracy, Trump has strengthened anti-democratic regimes across the world. The outgoing president’s MAGA project has ended with the United States being ridiculed by the Chinese and Russian state on matters of political stability and social cohesion. Pledging to end the “American carnage” in his inauguration address, Trump’s presidency ends by encouraging the storming of the US Capitol which ultimately resulted in dozens of arrests and the death of four people.

All of this, however, presents a golden opportunity – if not a desperate need – for moderate social democrats to fashion an inclusive patriotism which is rooted in respect for the rule of law, equality of opportunity, and appreciation of liberal democratic traditions. While the US is a country which finds its origins in revolutionary activity, the incoming administration headed by President-elect Joseph Biden must emphasise the restoration of social order. Political extremism – whether it is hard-right ethno-nationalism or hard-left identitarianism – threatens to rip apart America’s social fabric and must be confronted.

Political intimidation and violence – irrespective of ideological character – has no place in liberal democratic society. This simple message should be promoted at all levels of political governance, and crucially, reflected in the conduct of law enforcement. A robust approach should be adopted towards anti-democratic domestic extremists – of all ideological shades – who continue to undermine social cohesion. And selectivity on this front will inevitably call one’s commitment to national security and public safety into question.

No political leader in a multi-racial democracy – regardless of their party affiliation and activist base – should be willing to sacrifice social solidarity on the altar of radical identity politics.

Dr Rakib Ehsan is a research fellow at the Henry Jackson Society. Follow him on Twitter.

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