History is written by the victors, on January 6th, the rule of democracy was undermined by the one office in the world that stands symbolically as the champion of global freedom.
Donald Trump’s tweets served to incite his followers into decrying the elections of November as fraudulent and invading the Capitol. Despite there being no evidence of any fraudulent activity throughout the election, this piece of right-wing conspiracy that has run rampant online has shown the deep fractures of America.
However, these attacks on democracy are not exclusive to America and the USA. For months, even years, the European far right has also been gaining traction within the institutions of government.
Even Latin America is not immune to populism and the threat of current governments working to erode democracy. This is a looming threat that has been exacerbated by the current global pandemic; with the lack of global leadership from the USA, the status quo has shifted dangerously in the past few months.
The November elections had the entire world holding their breath to see whether the USA would continue spiralling towards a dangerously neo-fascist style of government or whether the Democrats would be able to gain a majority.
The 2020 presidential election had the highest turnout rate in more than a century according to the data recorded by Election Atlas (https://uselectionatlas.org/RESULTS/).
Biden won over 80 million votes in elections that had no signs of being fraudulent, but his road to the White House has been paved with adversity. These came in the shape of lawsuits filed by Trump in an effort to overturn the results.
As Trump lost the lawsuits, his Twitter turned into his personal rally box where he would denounce Biden and any who supported his legitimate win.
These all served to fuel the spread of misinformation that QAnon conspiracy buyers needed. The outbreak of violence was all but certain with the way Trump courted the extreme right throughout his Twitter career. Several times, he was asked to denounce White Supremacy and refused to do so.
This was most fiercely criticized back during the Charlottesville attack in 2017, in which Trump referred to fascists as ‘very fine people’.
This overt support has helped embolden extremists, sliding into an inevitable spiral that culminated in the January 6th attack. In a now deleted tweet, Ivanka Trump called the capitol rioters ‘patriots’, clearly echoing the same sentiments held by her father and his close supporters.
But this act is not patriotism, nor is it upholding the values that many Americans hold dear. It was an act of anarchy that further polarized the country.
Trump’s win in 2016 helped legitimize many of the simmering prejudices and weaknesses within the system.
And it must be asked: if history was truly written by the victors, why has white supremacy endured and thrived?
This question is not easily answered; it could be a combination of history being misrepresented and the education system failing to impress the severity of extremism.
Perhaps, it is more of a philosophical conundrum, the need to see the ‘other’ to shape one’s identity and, going even further, seeing the other as an enemy rather than a complimentary individual that fills the gaps.
What we see in America is not an isolated trend. Prior to the Covid crisis, there had been an alarming rise in populism and authoritarianism.
Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, Victor Orbán in Hungary, and Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil are some of these examples – leaders democratically elected whose arrival to power has been followed by repression.
Ultimately the difference between the Republican and Democratic parties has become an issue beyond economic policies; it has become a moral stance on who is deemed human and who is not.
Trumpism has, and will be, remembered as a synonym for fascism, authoritarianism and white supremacy.
Other countries which hold populist governments democratically elected ought to heed the warning. Cults of personality seldom make for stable governments, and yes history is written by the victors.
Tania Chen is a historian, writer and political analyst. She is a graduate of Bristol University where she did a BA in History, followed by an MA in Historical Studies.
Her areas of specialization are China in the 20th century, International Multilateral Organizations, and the Holocaust and it’s representations in current media.
The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CEIM. Any content provided by our bloggers or authors are of their opinion. The content on this site does not constitute endorsement of any political affiliation and does not reflect opinions from members of the staff and board.