On Janurary 6 insurrectionists, coordinated by a defeated presidential candidate and his cronies, stormed the capital in an attempt to overturn the results of a properly and legally conducted election two months earlier. Never before had this happened. The peaceful transfer of power was considered sacrosanct. Bloody clashes might substitute for an orderly and peaceful transition in some other country or region of the world, but not here, not in the citadel of democracy. But then, with the whole world watching the unthinkable and unimaginable happened – a bitterly contested, bloody, and messy transition of presidential power. So much for the myth of “American Exceptionalism.”
While the coup failed, the Republican Party, the MAGA movement, and right wing social media, the trifecta of authoritarian rule and lawlessness, didn’t exit the political stage though. Did anybody think they would?
And until they do, two things are clear. First, we still face an existential danger to democracy, equality, and everything else that we hold dear. Even with a calcified and evenly divided electorate, things could go south real fast.
What is also obvious is that any major rebuff to this retrograde bloc will do its dance on the terrain of electoral politics. Other terrains of struggle shouldn’t be abandoned. Quite the contrary. But a qualitative shift in power in a progressive, consistently democratic direction requires, as a first condition, the decisive defeat of this retrograde bloc at the ballot box. Such an outcome will likely take more than one election cycle and its consolidation will hinge in no small measure on what is done between as well as during election cycles.
We live in momentous times!