Democracy at Its Limits

The votes against Biden’s certification do not stand a chance. However, they do shift the boundaries of normal political discourse.

At least 11 Republican senators and more than 100 representatives are set to raise objections to Joe Biden’s election win on Wednesday, Jan. 6. They know they do not stand a chance — and they presumably also know that the accusations of voter fraud are completely unfounded, which is why the courts have rejected any such assertions.

This is precisely what makes the game they are playing so dangerous: The actions that Donald Trump loyalists — flanked by thousands of aggressive right-wingers on the streets of the capital — are taking are a direct attack on the heart of U.S. democracy.

It was quite refreshing when several more Republican leaders and even the pro-Trump New York Post spoke out clearly against the president in the days prior to the vote. However, far too many important players are not doing this, choosing instead to continue spreading Trump’s news that seemingly stems from a parallel universe.

This is a test of the democratic institutions that even Trump’s fiercest opponents would not have expected. Trump is doing as he pleases with the rule of law; although he will not succeed, it is allowing him to constantly shift the boundaries of what can, for now, still be deemed normal political discourse.

It has been a long time since the words “deeply divided” could be used to adequately describe the political state of the country: This is outright hostility between two camps that are unable to agree neither on solutions nor on how to describe reality — that are unable even to communicate.

The two biggest parties are seeing different effects of this: The left — what is in actual fact the social democratic — wing of the Democrats is operating strictly within the institutional framework. The Republicans, however, driven by the tea party movement and evangelicals, had slipped into right-wing extremism even before Trump appeared. Trump is simply the product and the executor of this development.

Biden’s plan to unite the U.S. does not stand a chance.

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