The mob in Washington trying to disrupt the peaceful transition of American power also posed a threat to all democracies

PARIS – The choreography was unusual: French President Emmanuel Macron stood in front of the stars and stripes and declared in English: “We believe in the strength of our democracies. We believe in the strength of American democracy”

And so, Donald Trump’s presidency ends with a French leader obliged to declare his confidence in the resilience of American democracy, one notable development Mr. Macron’s broader point was clear enough: the crowd of Trump loyalists in Washington, who tried to disrupt the peaceful transition of American power, also posed a threat to all democracies

The United States’ reputation may be tarnished, but its identification with the global defense of democracy remains unique as an angry horde, instigated by President Trump himself, took over the Capitol, and tarnished its sacred chambers with boastful contempt, gathered the legislature to certify President-elect Joseph R Biden JrAs a victory, the fragility of freedom felt palpable in Paris and around the world

“A universal idea – that of ‘one person, one voice’ – is being undermined,” said Mr Macron said in an address that began in French and ended in English it was the “temple of American democracy” that had been attacked

Democratic institutions prevailed in the early hours of the following morning, but the images of mob rule in Washington touched a particular nerve in broken Western societies. They became more right-wing with the emergence of an illiberal authoritarian model in Hungary and Poland and the rise of right-wing extremists of political forces from Italy to Germany They have also been exposed to the truculence of leaders like President Vladimir V Putin of Russia, who has declared liberalism “obsolete”, or Xi Jinping, China’s leading politician, who has given the world the model of a surveillance state for his country offered when he put down the democratic protest in Hong Kong

“These were harrowing images for European societies,” said political scientist Jacques Rupnik. “Even if America was no longer the beacon on a hill, it was nonetheless the pillar that supported European democracy and, after the Cold War, moved it eastwards expanded ”

Chancellor Angela Merkel said she was “angry and sad. She accused Mr. Trump clearly in favor of the Capitol storm that killed a woman. “Doubts about the election result were stoked and created the atmosphere that made last night’s events possible,” she said

Germans, for whom the United States was the postwar savior, protector, and liberal democratic model, are particularly dismayed about Mr Trump’s attempts to undermine the democratic process and the rule of law

Your concern has grown in recent years because the fraying of democracy from polarization, violence, social collapse, and economic hardship wasn’t confined to the United States and the coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated fears and distrust of the government in this one In context, the mob trudging through the Capitol seemed to reflect disruptive forces lurking in many parts of the western world

Last year, when battles for racial justice raged in several American cities, the German weekly magazine Der Spiegel portrayed Mr. Trump in the Oval Office with a lit match and called him “The Fire Devil” or literally “The Fire Devil” ”

The message was clear: the American president was playing with fire. This could only bring back German memories of the Reichstag fire of 1933 that enabled Hitler and the Nazis to destroy the fragile Weimar democracy that brought them to power / p>

Painful memories were not limited to Germany In much of Europe – a continent where totalitarian rule is not a distant specter, but something that people still live today – Mr. Trump’s attacks on an independent judiciary, a free press, and the sanctity of voting have long been viewed as threatening

Ms. Merkel herself began her life in communist East Germany.She observed how the euphoria after 1989 about the inevitability of a free democratic world evaporated and was emptied by the rise of authoritarian governments, the foundations of this world such as NATO or the Mr. Attacked the European Union often seemed to want to tilt the world in the same illiberal direction

He was defeated American institutions stood up to the chaos. Mr. Biden’s victory was duly upheld by Congress once order was restored

Vice President Mike Pence, the Mr. Trump had tried to campaign for the reversal of the election result in November, confirmed Mr Biden as the winner Mr Trump made a statement for the first time that it would be “on 20 Two wins at Senate races in Georgia kept the Democrats in control of the Senate, a stinging final reprimand for Mr. Trump opening the way for the new president to pursue his agenda

So everything is okay, isn’t it? Not Really The American Idea and Values ​​- Democracy, Rule of Law, Defense of Human Rights – were promoted during Dr Trump’s presidency Mr. Rupnik suggested it was “very difficult” for Mr. Biden, projecting America as the “assembler of a community of democracies,” an idea the new administration has launched to signal a return to America’s core principles

For some time, the rest of the world will view America with skepticism if they want to promote democratic values. The images of the overrun Capitol will be there for those who wish to use them to suggest that America would be best advised To teach no lessons in the exercise of freedom Dictators of the hard and soft kind have new and powerful ammunition

“Democracy Fractured” read the headline of the French daily Le Figaro over a photo of the beleaguered Capitol. An editorial suggested that Mr Trump may have resigned on “a controversial but not negligible record” after “Instead” his narcissism had overcome dignity, he handled institutions, trampled democracy, divided his own camp and ended his presidency in a ditch ”

There were indications that Mr. Trump’s magnetism is already waning Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis, a supporter of Mr. Trump promptly changed his Twitter profile picture from a picture of him wearing a red MAGA-style baseball cap that reads “Silné Česko” (Strong Czech Republic), to a picture of him wearing a face mask with the Czech flag

The turmoil in Washington ended up showing that the United States is bigger than a man, a point Mr. Macron seemed intent on playing on shared American and French support for freedom and democracy since Aug. Century on He mentioned Alexis de Tocqueville’s praise for American democracy He spoke of the American defense of French freedom during two world wars

Mr Macron’s message seemed clear. The America of “We the People,” the America that when it was created took it for granted that “all men are created equal,” was still desperately needed to “ensure our common struggle, that our democracies emerge from this moment, that we all live through even more ”

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World News – AU – A shattering blow to America’s troubled democracy image

Source: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/07/world/europe/macron-merkel-trump-capitol-democracy.html