SI deplores assault on democracy in the US

8 January 2021

The Socialist International, the worldwide organisation of social democratic, labour and democratic socialist parties, strongly deplores the systematic attacks on democracy that have taken place by President Donald Trump and his allies since his defeat in the presidential election in November last year, which culminated in the reprehensible assault on the Capitol building by supporters of the outgoing president on Wednesday 6 January. These shocking events have no place in a democracy and have sadly led to at least five deaths, including that of a police officer who lost his life as a result of injuries suffered while carrying out his duties.

It is astonishing, unprecedented and shameful that this mob was directly encouraged by the president to storm the seat of the US legislature, as a joint session of Congress was underway to certify the election of his opponent in the November election, Joe Biden. The direct provocation by Trump, followed by a number of senior members of the Republican Party, in the lead up to the tumultuous events at the Capitol comes on the back of two months during which they have at every juncture tried to undermine the validity of a free and fair election that delivered a resounding victory to President-elect Biden. It has been proven many times over that all the various allegations and conspiracy theories surrounding the electoral process are without merit and lack any legal foundation. Despite this, the president and others have been willing to lie, to distort the truth and subvert democracy in order to stay in power.

Over the past four years, President Trump has consistently shown himself to be unfit for office. This pattern of behaviour was evident even before his election in 2016, as he used campaign rallies to spread discord and encourage violence. His term of office has led to the emboldening and strengthening of far-right and white supremacist elements in American society, as he has refused to condemn violence and racism and offered support for many of their aims and objectives. The danger of inflammatory rhetoric and the consequences of inciting violence and hatred are plain to see after the events of 6 January. Some of the most troubling images to emerge show the triumphant brandishing of racist symbols such as the Confederate flag within the Capitol building, and violent attacks on the media, who have consistently been vilified by the outgoing president. President-elect Biden has accurately described those involved as domestic terrorists, and they must be identified and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

The Socialist International has a proud history of working for and speaking up in favour of democracy wherever it is under threat in the world and the events of recent months are a stark reminder that hard-won democratic rights must never be taken for granted. Even after the departure of President Trump from office, the damage done to democracy in the USA will take time and effort to overcome. We wish the incoming administration every success as they begin their work to repair the harm done by his predecessor and are confident that President-elect Biden will govern in the interest of all Americans, strengthen multilateralism and be a positive force both for the USA and for the rest of the world.