By Patty Friend and Jason Sibert
The American people have witnessed an attack on our democratic republic in recent days with the storming of Washington D.C. by some who believed the election was stolen for President-Elect Joe Biden via illegal voting.
Several arrests have been made and media reports indicate many of the insurgents who stormed the Capitol with the express purpose of overturning the election were members of various law enforcement units and the military. The Joint Chiefs of Staff – the most senior members of the Pentagon – issued a force-wide statement condemning the riots as a “direct assault on Congress” and confirming that Biden will be our next president. House Democrats have impeached President Trump for the second time, this time for inciting the riots. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he feels Trump committed impeachable offenses.
This anti-democratic movement isn’t monolithic. This movement has been organizing itself for almost 40 years. It includes neo-Nazis, white supremacists, QAnon believers, militia members, end-timers, and radicalized former members of law enforcement and the military. Conspiracy theories are at the heart of this movement, many of which Joseph Goebbels would be proud. These people have been radicalized by right wing media and (right wing) social media and opportunistic politicians. Where once they could be depended upon just to vote for Republicans, they have now become manipulated to overthrow the elected governments in the United States. They are armed, well- funded, and incredibly dangerous. In addition, they see themselves as being at war with Democrats and democratically elected officials. What happened to the United States of America on January 6, 2021 is a horrifying event like nothing we’ve ever seen before. This was not just a riot gone wrong. The mob was incited by Trump and Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), and some Republican congresspeople. After the insurrection was quelled, 129 Republican congresspeople voted to overturn the fair and free election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Trump must be impeached and convicted, never allowed to run for office in the U.S. again, and those senators and congresspeople should resign. It has come to light that certain congresspeople provided tours to certain insurgents in the days before the event, giving them even more reason to resign or be expelled. Anyone who takes the oath of office and breaks that oath should be expelled!
Social democrats must remember their support for the democratic republic at a time like this. We have traditionally extended democracy into the economic realm by support for social insurance, the right to unionize, affordable housing, higher minimum wages, and a slew of other economic reforms. An attack on our democratic system is, by extension, an attack on social democracy.
This attack is a violent manifestation of an anti-democratic trend in American politics. The mere refusal to acknowledge Biden’s win is a less violent part of this trend. Even after Trump’s Presidency, this anti-democratic trend will continue. To be fair, Republicans do not have a monopoly on this trend: the legalistic chicanery employed by the Democratic caucus in the Kansas State House of Representatives to overturn the free and fair election of social democrat (and SDUSA member) Rep. Aaron Coleman is testimony to this.
Social democrats must ally themselves with pro-democracy conservatives, libertarians, moderates, and anyone else who believes in the democratic form of government. This is a battle that will be fought amongst legislators, in all forms of media, and perhaps in the streets. When it comes to the streets, this battle must be fought with non-violent demonstrations. As the fight for democracy continues, social democrats must continue their fight for people in the lower-to-middle end of the income spectrum.
A more vibrant social democracy means a more vibrant democracy for most in the population and less alienation from our political system. While the battle for democracy calls for a broad coalition, the battle for social democracy requires a partisan form or organization, as this form of organization is what elected two Democratic senators in Arizona and in Georgia. Hopefully, our republic – which has become more democratic in time- will survive and grow even more democratic in the future. However, we can’t forget the fight it will take to arrive at our desired destination.
Patty Friend is the National Chair of Social Democrats USA.
Jason Sibert is Executive Director of the Peace Economy Project.