Yesterday’s events in the United States Capitol shocked the world. So called “patriots”, incited to violence by the President, invading the Capitol building in a bid to reverse the result of November’s democratic election, is a reminder to us all of the fragility of democracy and the consequences of putting certain people into positions of power. Luckily, it appears that this attempted coup will lead to no reversal of the election result (a testimony to the strength of American institutions and the foresight of the Founding Fathers) and Mr Biden will still become the 46th President of the United States on January 20th 2021.
In the eyes of Trump supporters, the Trump presidency was supposed to “Make America Great Again”. This now famous slogan is the result of an accurate reading by Trump supporters that America has lot its way and is on the decline. Despite the wishes of his supporters, who saw Trump as the last chance to preserve American hegemony, it’s clearer than ever that the Trump presidency could instead be the death throes of America’s position as a hegemonic world superpower.
What defines America? To the rest of the world, America has long been a beacon of hope, a land of opportunity and freedoms as well as a staunch defender of democracy and democratic values. As China rapidly catches up economically and with each passing year steps a bit closer to becoming a larger economic superpower than even the United States, America seems to be also losing its way in terms of the values that it has, up to now, represented and defended.
Now more than ever, we need America to regain its sanity and step back into its role as defender of freedom and democracy. Europeans too often have used the scenes seen in America throughout the Trump presidency as a way to score political points and to present their political systems as superior. What we are seeing in America, and America’s current troubles with its identity, represents a threat to the entire Free world.
The crowds of people that stormed the Capitol building yesterday chanting “USA! USA” might well turn out to be the death knell of the American empire. The coming shift in the global power balance does not look like it will be in the West’s favour. All lovers of freedom, democracy and individual rights should be hoping for the United States to get its act together If America does not regain its global leadership, the country that will take its place will be an infinitely greater threat to democracy and Western values than the outgoing President. That is a prospect we should all be scared of.