Capitol protests: The state of the union
We have seen similar scenes previously only in the movies. In TV series, such as “Designated Survivor,” there was an attack on the heart of the democracy in the U.S. – the U.S. Congress.
In “Die Hard 4,” this time it was a fake attack; however, even that was sufficient to traumatize the population. Such an attack by a mob was never seen before in the U.S. Congress. It was shocking for everyone in the country, both Democrats and Republicans. Five people died; dozens of them were wounded. For American history, it was a tragic day.
There will be several consequences of these events for the United States, both in the world as well as within the country.
First of all, it is important to realize that the events in Washington, D.C., hurt the U.S. image to a great extent. The U.S.’ standing abroad was already at a record low following the failure to manage the COVID-19 crisis and the George Floyd incident that took place last summer.
With the attack on Congress and the pictures and videos from the attack, the U.S. image is greatly impacted. It would take a considerable period of time for this damage to be fixed.
Domestically, it will generate a new debate about the division and fault lines in American society. It will create a lot of discussion on the election results and the future of American society.
The soul searching will be more intense in the Republican Party. The events led to the emergence of a major division within the Republican Party.
The party was already divided; however, President Donald Trump’s effect on the party led to many of the Republicans caving to the rhetoric and political orientation of Trumpists.
Many Republicans were concerned about the high popularity of Trump in a large chunk of the Republican Party. He could be an effective force during the primaries and impact electoral prospects.
After the attack, the division within the party came to a critical turning point, and it became harder for the mainstream Republicans to avoid a confrontation with Trump.
The polls conducted following the events showed that the Republican Party split into two different camps in regard to the mob attack on Congress.
According to a poll, 45% of registered Republicans supported the groups that attacked Congress. The division between two different groups within the party may increase in the aftermath of this attack.
The attack not only angered mainstream Republicans but also helped some of them to overcome the “fear” threshold so that they can stand up against Trump.
Of course, this is very much related to Trump’s political career. During the November elections, Trump demonstrated his impact on American society and politics. Although he lost the election, he received more than 70 million votes in the elections. In an unprecedented way, he increased his votes by more than 10 million.
In addition to that, his claims about the elections also made a large group of people within the Republican Party believe him. This has generated major political capital for Trump so that he can instrumentalize in the next four years.
After the elections, many believed that Trump could project this power during the 2022 midterm elections in order to help Republicans loyal to him win the primaries and the elections.
Thus, many suggested that after Jan. 20, Trump will not be president, but Trumpism may continue to rise among major segments of the American population. However, after the attack on Congress, we may see some changes in this picture.
Trump may continue to have significant influence over the Republican voters. He may continue to exert pressure on the elected representatives from the Republican Party through his impact over grassroots Republicans. However, compared with Jan. 6, this will impact his ability to mobilize Republicans behind him for the presidential elections in 2024.
This article was first published by Daily Sabah on January 12, 2021.