Wednesday, February 28, 2024

OMINOUS SIGNALS FROM CAPITOL HILL

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Prima facie, the violent protests at Capitol Hill in the US by Trump supporters have come as a major embarrassment for the system of democracy that the US is in the forefront of practicing and preaching. President Trump himself worked the crowd to a frenzy to subvert a popular mandate, and alleged that victory has been stolen from him by “explosions of bullshit”. The march was essentially to thwart the process of counting of electoral votes of swing states that he had lost in the November polls. The presidential election this time was marred with unprecedented chaos and the end is not in sight even though just days are left for the scheduled inauguration of a new President.

If democracy in the US faces such odds, the situation elsewhere in future can only be imagined. It was the success of the democratic system practised by the US – the world’s oldest democracy – that inspired others to adapt to this governance system. India – the world’s largest democracy –ably carried forward with this system ever since Independence. Europe as a whole is wedded to this governance system for long years. Most countries in Asia and Africa as also Latin America are carrying on with this system.

While democracy has its flaws and requires periodic political reforms to take it forward in healthy ways, the fact remains that there is no other governance system that ensures a direct role for the people to run their governments. If the US ends up in chaos in the context of alleged irregularities in the election process, the signals it sends out to the wider world are somewhat worrisome.

The kind of demonstrations that Capitol Hill saw on January 6 was unheard of in US history. Pro-Trump protesters unleashed mayhem, shots were fired inside the Capitol and there was enforcement of curfew in cities like Columbia. It was in the coming, though. During the campaign period itself, Trump had told his white supremacist supporters to “stand by” if a situation arose of him having to step down from power by an adverse electoral verdict. He got ready to pose legal challenges.

Yet, it would appear that Trump would finally quit and give the chance to elected Democrat nominee Joe Biden to take over as President. However there is every likelihood of the next four years turning into a grim experience for both Joe Biden and the United States of America. Point to ponder is, how the scenario has come to such a pass. If America is rudderless, it could also mean the world as a whole will be in turmoil in multiple ways.

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