Violence in Capitol Shakes Faith in U.S. Role as World’s Leading Democracy

Unbelievable scenes have played out in the United States, the world’s leading democracy. It can be said that social division and conspiracy theories fueled by U.S. President Donald Trump have culminated in violent acts that challenged elections and Congress.

All politicians, including Republican lawmakers who have supported Trump, must take the historical blemish seriously and make efforts to revive politics.

The U.S. Capitol in Washington was temporarily occupied by a violent mob loyal to Trump. At a joint session of both the Senate and the House of Representatives, a large number of Trump supporters stormed the Capitol, forcing the suspension of proceedings to formally elect Democratic candidate Joe Biden as the next president.

This is an unprecedented situation in which violence hampered deliberations at the Capitol, a symbol of democracy. Clashes with police forces have resulted in casualties. The depth of the shock is beyond description.

Most of the responsibility lies with Trump. He held a rally to protest the outcome of the presidential election in conjunction with the joint session and urged his supporters to march to the Capitol, proclaiming his theory that victory was snatched from him through election fraud.

It would be no exaggeration to say that Trump incited the mob intrusion. Even now, many of his supporters believe that there has been election fraud.

If Trump had declared his defeat when the election results came out and made an effort during the transition of power, it would not have led to such confusion and conflict. Republican lawmakers who sympathized with Trump also cannot escape criticism. They should be aware of the significance of the consequences and come to their senses.

At the joint session, which resumed after the situation was settled, some Republican lawmakers reversed their previous positions and withdrew support for challenges to election results. They may have been reminded of the origin of democratic politics, reaching a compromise after thorough discussion, even if there are differences in positions.

Expressing the sense of urgency, Biden said democracy in the United States is “under unprecedented assault.” It will be a challenge to stop the division of the people and the intensification of the rivalry between the ruling and opposition parties.

It is hoped that Biden will help Congress function effectively by using his experience as vice president, and a senator to bridge the gap between the Democratic and the Republican parties.

The Democratic Party has been projected to win both runoffs for two Senate seats in the U.S. state of Georgia. As a result, the party will likely hold the majority both in the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The majority of the Senate will work favorably for the new administration because it will be able to expect swift handlings of the approval of personnel including secretaries and other high-ranking officials, bills and budget proposals, among other issues, as the Senate has the authority for such approval.

Measures against the novel coronavirus and economic recovery steps are the most urgent. The administration and Congress should cooperate to achieve tangible results.

— The original Japanese article appeared in The Yomiuri Shimbun on Jan. 9, 2021.