A year after the attack that killed five people on the Capitol on January 6, 2021, the United States is still far from having recovered health and serenity. The symptoms of the social malaise that has taken hold on the other side of the Atlantic persist. Doubts too. Thus, according to an opinion poll conducted by the CBS News channel, a third of Americans believe today that the use of force can sometimes be used to defend democratic ideas. Similarly, according to another study published in the washington post in collaboration with the University of Maryland, only 54% of them would still be proud of their democracy, compared to 90% in 2002.
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Results that should be interpreted with moderation. For Lauric Henneton, a specialist in American civilization, American citizens worried about their democracy do not form a single block. According to the lecturer at the University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin, these are to be sought “both in the camp of Democrats fearing a Republican coup, as in that of Republicans who perceive the election of Joe Biden as a theft and a threat to democracy”. A CNN poll from September 2021 also shows that 78% of Republicans still consider Joe Biden’s victory illegitimate, or some 65 million people. What, in a recent article of the Los Angeles Times, had Robert A. Pape, a terrorism expert at the University of Chicago, say that “ 21 million of them arepotential recruits for a future insurrection in the event of Donald Trump’s defeat in 2024! »
“still a lot of suffering”
In the Democratic camp, we also take advantage of this sad anniversary to play on the sensitive chord. Speaking from the Senate gallery on Monday, January 3, party leader Chuck Summer spoke about “an indelible mark in the history of [la] American democracy”. As for the Democrat Cory Booker, he told AFP this Wednesday, January 5, that there was “still a lot of suffering”.
A suffering which however does not date from yesterday as the social and political divisions cross the history of the United States and seem inherent to a two-party democratic regime. What, then, are the ingredients that have favored the shift towards a generalized concern for the system itself? For many analysts, Donald Trump’s first campaign and his surprise victory in 2016 were game changers. With the advent of the president with the wick, the tone changed, and in the end “The assault on the US Congress was the culmination of rising tensions in recent years. This event has only shed a harsh light on the reality of this country, namely a deep division that torments American society. continues Lauric Henneton.
An opinion shared by Professor Jean-Eric Branaa, from the University of Paris II Panthéon Assas, who also justifies the current malaise by “the possible role played by a sitting president – Donald Trump – but also by the destabilizer of certain parliamentarians and Republican political figures. A commission of inquiry is still underway against some of them accused of “complicity” in the assault on the Capitol. “says the researcher. Among thoseformer chief of staff to the former president, Mark Meadows.
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As for the existence of a post-Capitol collective trauma, here again, for Lauric Henneton, it’s all about perception and beliefs: “Admittedly, this event upset some Americans, but this is not exactly the case for Trump sympathizers, who mostly see it as a maneuver by the Democrats to pay for their hero” he confides. In this sense, Donald Trump’s decision to cancel his speech scheduled for January 6 – hammering home once again that he was the victim of “election fraud” – illustrates this vision well. “The former US president hasalways reduces the events of January 6 as being a simple peaceful gathering whose outbursts were the work of antifa and leftists” adds the specialist.
A rehashed but effective story that still allows Donald Trump to maintain strong popularity today. “ And it is precisely because he succeeds in telling this story and bringing this narrative to life, to which some Americans and particularly his many supporters adhere, that Trump remains present in the political game. points out Jean-Eric Branaa for whom a victory for the former president in the next elections remains entirely possible… “as long as, precisely, no one will be able to bring another narrative as strong to the Americans!”
Biden’s broken promises
And that’s where the shoe pinches on the Democratic side. Joe Biden, less of a juggernaut than his predecessor, does not seem to have much to tell or to offer. A year after the assault on the Capitol – which some saw as a boon for the president-elect – the latter is in great difficulty. His popularity has steadily declined over the course of 2021, reaching an average of 42% according to poll aggregator FiveThirtyEight. What Jean Eric Branaa – for whom the weaknesses of the current president are “disturbing” –explains in his own way, pointing out that“Getting 42% over Christmas is simply abnormal”.
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If this result, one of the worst for a president after a year in office, can be explained by various factors including his foreign policy – in particular the pitiful withdrawal of the United States in Afghanistan – the professor argues that Joe Biden is also suffering broken word on many promises. “Like bringing the country back to calm after the Capitol, or even ending the pandemic…”
Despite his huge recovery plan, including an infrastructure law and subsidies for small farmers, Joe Biden’s coast is falling desperately. The American president will have to learn to tell stories.