Wednesday’s mayhem in Washington, DC that saw the storming of Capitol Hill, the deaths of four persons, fisticuffs between legislators, the desecration of Congress and the blocking of a sitting President’s social media accounts, has ensured at least three things.
First, it has resulted in the wilful destruction of America’s place at the high table of democracy through an act termed an insurrection by both a Democratic President-elect and a Republican former President.
Next, it has ensured obliteration of the Donald Trump myth, his exhortations to a mob of hooligans that led to the Capitol being stormed having confirmed his place not as the statesman he might have imagined himself to be but as an obstreperous thug who made it to the White House.
Finally, it has delivered a grievous blow to the Republican party which sent Mr Trump to America’s highest political office and which, as a consequence of his utter lack of grace in conceding an election he had lost, has seen the loss of control of the Senate after twin setbacks in Georgia.
While global leaders, including Prime Minister Modi, have condemned the violence and many, including him, have sought a peaceful “transfer of power”, it is the jibes from the Chinese that will rankle Americans the most.
The Communist Party-run Global Times has asked if US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi who had once described protests in Hong Kong as a “beautiful sight to behold” would say the same about the violent protests by Trump supporters.
But the most biting comment came from Lebanon’s Permanent Representation to the United Nations who tweeted, “If the United States saw what the United States is doing in the United States, the United States would invade the United States to liberate the United States from the tyranny of the United States.”
While it is tempting to conclude from the fact Mr Trump secured 70 million votes that a little less than half of Americans support his disruptive style and his contempt for the organs of governance, that would be unfair. But equally it cannot be denied that Mr Trump has brought extreme right-wingers, racists, rednecks and white supremacists to a common platform, one that will continue to rip American society apart.
Many Republican supporters are conservative whites who see in the Democrats’ relative socialism a debasement of the American dream and view with scepticism the party’s policies on immigration and a host of other issues.
These differences, though, have existed for generations, but the sparring has mostly been genteel and confined to the many debating platforms Americans give themselves.
The degeneration into violence on the back of what former President Barack Obama terms a “fantasy narrative” that “spiralled further and further from reality” will have worrisome consequences in the days ahead. Mr Joe Biden will inherit not a depleted Presidency but one that in its last days has flirted with criminality. No wonder many Americans want Mr Trump impeached in the last days he remains their President.