IIn the fall, suspicions about the consequences of the presidential election for America were often determined by a gloomy tone. The outlook was particularly bleak in an article in the magazine “The Atlantic”, which was translated as follows: “The election that could break America”.
The pessimistic outlook was based on the expectation that in the face of polarization, hostility and the heated atmosphere in the country, the losing side – usually Donald Trump was meant – would neither admit their own defeat nor recognize the legitimacy of the winner. The President actually did both of these things right up to the end.
The losing side would then do everything to make governance as difficult as possible for the new president – obstruction as a political method to thwart the outcome of a democratic process. The damage to key institutions of democracy would be accepted. Some even considered it possible that there would be open violence, that the “Cold War in America”, about which the political scientist Torben Lütjen wrote, would become “hot” – the “civil war scenario”.
Nobody could get a “6. January ”
And yet even the greatest pessimists could not have imagined that, after a cheering speech by Trump, in which he once again raved about the theft of a “landslide victory”, a mob would storm the Capitol in Washington. The events on January 6, 2021 stunned many because on the one hand it is against all democratic principles and customs, but on the other hand it shows the consequences that constant agitation and denigration of political opponents can have: radicals measured themselves grotesquely when the people to appear incite a riot.
The question arises whether this January 6th will have a purifying effect on politicians, more precisely: on Republicans who have benefited politically from the delegitimization of institutions and political tribalism; who only rarely contradicted a radical populist in the White House, if at all, and who until recently played a role in the legend of electoral fraud.