“The old world is dying. The new one is slow to appear. And in this chiaroscuro monsters are born”. In 1930 the Italian anti-fascist intellectual Antonio Gramsci wrote this reflection in his “Prison Notebooks”, to explain how Mussolini could conquer power and establish a dictatorship. Unfortunately, almost a century later, these words are fitting to understand what is happening in recent days beyond the ocean. Without exaggerating, it’s the darkest hour of American democracy.
Diary of what happened
On Wednesday, January 6, the joint session of Congress was scheduled to ratify the electors’ vote, then the Biden‘s victory. Usually, this is a formal step that takes place automatically, without attracting. This time this sitting became a target of the Trump’s campaign to stay in power despite the electoral defeat.
During the session, dozens of Republican senators and deputies decided to object to the great voters’ will.
Trump made pressure on Vice President Mike Pence, who presides over the Senate, to discard the states’ great electors. Failing in their intent, President addressed the tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered since morning outside the White House. After repeatedly stating that he considered the elections rigged, Trump encouraged his supporters to protest at Capitol.
At 13:30 protesters attacked police cordons defending Congress. While hundreds of demonstrators, many of them armed, invaded the Chamber’s classroom and that of the Senate, the parliamentarians were reviewing the votes of the 50 states that certify the Biden’s election.
Vice President Mike Pence managed to leave the building in a hurry. Instead, senators and deputies barricaded themselves in the offices after receiving gas masks from security guards.
Alarmed by what was happening, the Mayor of Washington Muriel Bowser declared a curfew from 18. The she asked the Pentagon for the National Guard’s intervention.
Trump vs Biden: the clash on social media
Only after an hour from the beginning of the assault, Trump appeared on Twitter to call to order his supporters. “Please support our Capitol Police and Law Enforcement. They are truly on the side of our Country. Stay peaceful!”.
As this first appeal turned out to be completely useless, the President later posted a new tweet. “I am asking for everyone at the U.S. Capitol to remain peaceful. No violence! Remember, we are the Party of Law & Order – respect the Law and our great men and women in Blue. Thank you!”.
The intervention of the new president-elect Joe Biden arrived soon. “America is so much better than what we’re seeing today. I call on President Trump to go on national television now to fulfill his oath and defend the Constitution by demanding an end to this siege”.
The outgoing President then responded by posting a video shot in the White House garden, in which exclaimed: “They stole our election, but don’t be violent!”.
Thanks to the intervention of over 1500 soldiers sent by the Secretary of Defense, Christopher Miller, in the evening law enforcement, regained Capitol Hill’s full control.
Then on the night of January 6-7, after a suspension of several hours, the session of Congress resumed. Parlamentarians ratified the victory of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice President of the USA.
Reflections on a day that will become sadly historic
The results of over five hours of siege and violence have been dramatic. At the end of the day, there were five victims and more than fifty arrests. Numbers from real civil war, as well as resemble real war scenes what we can see on the Youtube channel of the Washington Post.
Another thing that puzzled the whole world was the relative ease with which demonstrators managed to get into Capitol Hill. How did this happen, especially on such an important day?
The controversy within American public opinion has already flared up. The images of the insurgents swarming in front of the square and then up the stairs and into the building’s corridors and offices are terribly incredible. Just as incredible was the security disaster.
Dozens of photos and videos on social media show that the demonstrators didn’t find particular police resistance. Some of them even show how some agents open the barriers to let the demonstrators pass and take selfies with them.
Also, it suggests the different attitude of the security forces at this juncture, especially when compared to the hard intervention put in place during the protests of the movement “Black Lives Matter”.
What is particularly worrying is Trump’s total inactivity. In fact, Defense Secretary Christopher Miller reported that Vice President Mike Pence, not President Trump, approved the order to deploy the National Guard, the only one who managed to force the protesters to leave the Capitol.
The responsabilities of the president
At this point, the enormous responsibilities of Donald Trump are evident.
Firstly, it’s clear the irresponsibility of the President in fomenting demonstrators, even pushing them to show up at Capitol Hill.
Because of the harsh language and extolling violence, the world’s largest and best-known social networks have made unprecedented decisions to try and reduce the level of confrontation. Numerous videos of the violence have been removed from the social and Trump’s accounts have been blocked. This happened only several hours after the publication of posts, videos and tweets in which the President showed closeness to the violent.
For this reason, Facebook, Twitter and other social networks received criticism for how they managed their platforms during the assault and intervened with little timing in eliminating a video message from Trump sent to its supporters. Beyond the more or less slow timing of the various platforms, the decision to obscure presidential profiles was a strong and unprecedented act. If Youtube decided to delete a Trump video addressed to its supporters, Twitter opted to suspend its profile 24 hours. Even harder was the choice of Facebook. Mark Zuckerberg decided to block Trump’s page indefinitely, explaining that there would be too much risk in reactivating the ability to publish content.
Despite the public apologies and the most subdued appeals of recent days, now the president risks forced resignation and impeachment. Democratic deputies Ilhan Omar and Alexandria Ocasio Cortez have already begun collecting the necessary documentation. The process would be the second of its kind in less than a year, an unprecedented record.
The Trump’s sunset
The second evidence emerged after the events of January 6, is that most members of the Republican Party decided to abandon Trump’s ship. In these days they have begun to flake resignation of leading exponents of the outgoing administration. These included Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger and the chief of First Lady’s staff. But they’re also considering leaving Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and National Security Advisor Robert O’Brian.
More than 24 hours after the events, Trump, with guilty delay, condemned through Twitter what happened. In the same video message admitted the arrival of a new administration, without ever naming the opponent Biden. Only 12 days from the inauguration ceremony of Joe Biden, in which he will not participate, Trump declared his surrender.
On January 20, Joe Biden will take office as the new President of the USA. Donald Trump’s story at the White House now reached the headlines. Four years characterized by strong social tensions, strong tones and statements always beyond the limits, close with an act of unprecedented brutality.
The events of January 6 seem to be a warning to democracies worldwide: if we leave room for sovereignism and populism, the result is a return to the dark times.