On January 6, 2021, the president of the United States Donald Trump incited a violent mob to disrupt the constitutional electoral process. Invading the Capitol building, their actions placed congressional staff and leaders in danger of physical harm. These dark events are a direct result of the president’s ongoing campaign of false claims questioning the validity of the U.S. electoral process and his efforts to stoke unrest in order to unjustly cling to power.
The advisors and political leaders who abetted him are complicit in these shameful acts. It is past time for the president to accept the results of the election and fully commit to a peaceful transition of power, and for responsible leaders to act to limit any further damage that Donald Trump might inflict on our already fragile democratic institutions.
The day’s events were the culmination of powerful authoritarian forces that have been building over the last four years, driven by a president and his supporters, including prominent political leaders, who have consistently and wantonly promoted lies, racial division, and extremism in their pursuit of power. The chaos at the Capitol also underscored the chilling racism embedded in the judgement and the actions of many of our law enforcement agencies. Though public security agencies mobilized heavily armed and overly aggressive responses to racial justice protests last summer, they failed to effectively resist a violent takeover of the United States Congress by White extremists.
The Biden administration must recognize and affirm that the road to recovering our democratic ideals starts with taking a firm stance against extremism and supporting those members of civil society and government doing the daily work of building democracy—both at home and abroad.
The incoming Biden administration faces a monumental task, and it must find a way to meet the moment. That work starts at home, by addressing the significant domestic threats we face from authoritarianism, extremism, and race-based discrimination and inequality.
Latin America is facing equally daunting challenges to democracy and the rule of law. If the events at the Capitol leave behind any lessons in how the incoming administration should reorient its approach to Latin America, it’s this: democratic ideals are global and they must not be taken for granted; the United States and Latin America share common challenges and a responsibility to defend these ideals as partners.
President Donald Trump and the mob who attacked the Capitol failed in their violent mission. Battered as it is, our democracy withstood the assault and Congress certified the election of Joe Biden to the presidency. During this election and the past four years, we have seen the rise of millions of grassroots activists, civil society leaders, and others who recognize that democratic governance is not a given; rather it’s a daily task, built on determination to participate in the political process, and to demand greater equity, accountability, and rule of law. The Biden administration must recognize and affirm that the road to recovering our democratic ideals starts with taking a firm stance against extremism and supporting those members of civil society and government doing the daily work of building democracy—both at home and abroad.