A year after the insurgency in Capitol Hill, the beleagured President Joe Biden has launched a severe attack on his predecessor and of a kind that has seldom, if at all, been witnessed in the history of the United States of America. He has accused Donald Trump of posing a continuing threat to America’s democracy.
The offensive was also directed against Mr. Trump’s supporters who had tried to overturn the election verdict of 2020. Mr Biden’s fusillade was couched with the warning that Mr Trump’s claims that the election was stolen from him through widespread voting fraud could serve to undermine the rule of law. “A former President has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He’s done so because he values power over principle.”
It was an onslaught against Mr Trump, as direct as it was damning, without mentioning his predecessor’s name. Mr Biden has spent the first year of his presidency, riveted to his own agenda which has often seemed to flounder. Nonetheless, the damage wrought by Mr Trump’s efforts to undermine the election that he lost lingers on in the United States. “The former President and his supporters have decided that the only way for them to win is to suppress your vote and subvert our elections.”
On this point, Mr Trump scarcely enjoys support among the rank and file of his own party. An estimated 55 per cent of Republican voters believe that his claim is false, one that has been rejected by dozens of courts, state election departments, and members of his own administration. Accusing Mr Trump of seeking to perpetuate what he called a “big lie”, President Biden said that there is a “battle for the soul of America and a struggle at home and abroad between the forces of democracy and autocracy”.
It was pretty obvious that democracy was under threat on 6 January 2021. What happened in the Capitol on that day was the utter antithesis of democracy. Four people died in the hour-long chaos, which occurred after Mr Trump urged supporters to march to the Capitol and “fight like hell”. One of the officers at the scene, Sergeant Harry Dunn of the Capitol Police, remarked that the attack took an emotional toll. “You cannot get away from January 6 even if you’re trying to. It’s everywhere, especially if it’s your place of work. Accountability needs to be had, no matter who that comes at.”
Mr Biden’s onslaught began a series of events that is also scheduled to feature the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and other legislative leaders, by and large from the Democratic Party. This is the latest sub-section in an ugly chapter of American history, indeed democracy in the wider canvas. And it comes at a time when Mr Biden’s popularity is plumetting and the country faces a deadly health emergency.