So, Donald Trump canceled the press conference he wanted to hold on Jan. 6, 2022, the first anniversary of the insurrection in Washington.
That is good news.
During a speech meant to unify the country, duly elected President Joe Biden will make the case for bolstering democracy on American soil. There is also a moment of silence planned on the Capitol steps.
This is all necessary.
For his part, Trump sought to argue publicly at about the same time as Biden was speaking that if the election had not been rigged, he would still be president.
This delirious duel will not take place, and just as well, In form, at least. In substance, it wouldn’t change anything.
The problem that remains, as the most recent issue of The Atlantic summed up the problem clearly and unambiguously, is that “Donald Trump is better positioned to subvert an election now than he was in 2020.”
For more than a year, the former president has repeatedly asserted that the election was stolen. And the brainwashing campaign has worked so well that, according to an ABC News/Ipsos poll taken at the end of December, more than two-thirds of Republicans, 71%, still believe it.
The tremendous lie, by repeating it, has thus become a truth for tens of millions of Americans. This is all the more disturbing as it is hard to see what could assuage their resentment. This bodes poorly for our powerful neighbor.
Violence against the Government
People certainly know as well that a Washington Post/University of Maryland poll, the results of which were published on Jan. 1, revealed that 34% of Americans now believe that violence carried out against the government under certain circumstances may be justified. This is a notable change from the 1990s, when 90% of Americans deemed it in no way justifiable.
As 2022 begins, there is serious discussion about the day American democracy might come to an end — and worse yet, discussion about the possibility of a civil war.
I don’t mean to play the prophet of doom and gloom and predict that an armed conflict is imminent among our southern neighbors. But under the present circumstances, it must be acknowledged that this is not farfetched, and that those people sounding the alarm are making valid arguments.
Consider Barbara F. Walter, who teaches political science at the University of California at San Diego and is the author of the book, “How Civil Wars Start.”
“If you were an analyst in a foreign country looking at events in America — the same way you’d look at events in Ukraine or the Ivory Coast or Venezuela — you would go down a checklist, assessing each of the conditions that make civil war likely. And what you would find is that the United States, a democracy founded more than two centuries ago, has entered very dangerous territory,” Walter told Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.
The Future of the United States
Canadian writer Stephen Marche has just published “The Next Civil War,” in which he develops a series of apocalyptic scenarios, from the assassination of a potential female U.S. president to the explosion of a catastrophic bomb with spreading radioactive material in Washington.
These scenes can often seem like a stretch, but the book is telling, and the authors warning about the future of the U.S. should nevertheless make you think.
“Foreign governments need to prepare for a postdemocratic America, an authoritarian and hence much less stable superpower,” Marche wrote in The Globe and Mail in January 2021. Or plan even for a country “consumed by its crises that it cannot manage to conceive, much less to enact, domestic or foreign policies.”
Let’s be clear: It is greatly premature to announce the imminent death of American democracy. It would, however, be a mistake, from this side of the border, to think that it is inconceivable and fail to prepare for contending with such a possibility.