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The storming of Capitol Hill by mobs of US President Donald Trump’s supporters in an effort to derail the certification of the election of Joe Biden as the 46th President of the United States is deplorable. It is a blot on the world’s oldest democracy and a warning of the wages of inflaming insecurities in an uncertain world. Yet, on its worst day, the US showed its commitment to the republic and democracy.
Not only did the certification of the presidential election take place but politicians who seldom agree with each other and have been disagreeable came together in defence of the practices that sustain democracy in the US. Wednesday’s shameful event holds lessons for all democracies and their politicians. Institutions matter, safeguarding these is the duty of every citizen.
Political parties and their leaders, whether in government or not, need to realise that a politics based on exploiting insecurities and stoking passions will weaken the edifice of democracy. A lesson that there are some things that are far bigger and critical than political power and control. That no matter how disappointing an electoral outcome, it does not behove political leaders to undermine the very process that brings political parties to power and sustains democracy.
Laying siege to the ultimate symbol of a democratic republic is inevitably what happens when those with a bullhorn enable the undermining of democracy by labelling it as speaking truth to power. How the series of events and non-events leading up to Wednesday’s mob attack in Washington affect and alter institutions of American democracy remains to seen.
President-Elect Joe Biden has a tough task — not just to deal with the pandemic and its economic consequences, restore US to its traditional global leadership role, but also to heal the rift that divides America and renew the politics of compromise and consensus. With the wins in the Georgia run-offs, the Democrats now control the House, Senate and White House, Biden has the opportunity to make it happen
This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Economic Times.