Express & Star comment: Events in Washington shock the world

The shocking events in Washington have reverberated around the world.

Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana).
Supporters of President Donald Trump climb the west wall of the the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana).

America, which bills itself as the global champion of freedom and democracy, has worn the face of a failed Third World state where rule is through the mob on the streets and not through the authority given by votes in the ballot box.

It is a disgraceful end to the Trump term which will leave an enduring stain which will define a presidency which did little or nothing to unify America and much to divide it, setting Americans at odds with each other.

It is also a reminder of something which is fundamental in working democracies, and that is that people have faith in, and respect for, the democratic system.

Even before his defeat Trump agitated to undermine both, and what has happened is the malign fruit of that self-serving propaganda campaign.

In the land of the free, with free speech, legitimate questioning is part of the strength of democracy, but Trump used his power and position to promote conspiracy theories which were not supported by any independently verified evidence.

His speeches were rabble rousing, and duly roused a rabble, with results the world has witnessed.

Democracy relies on the concept of there being good losers. It doesn't work in countries which have despotic leaders for whom losing is not an option, or where those who are defeated at the ballot box automatically attribute it to fraud and corruption without any evidence.

Trump has been the sorest of losers and dragged American democracy down.

The When Democracy Goes Wrong scenes in America are also a warning shot. Like America, Britain cherishes its democratic system, which is inherently imperfect with deeply-held opinions about things like proportional representation, the voting age, and of course the role of referenda.

Democracy is not just big government – ordinary people can do their bit on their local council, down to grass roots parish council level. Keeping people involved, in touch, and feeling their votes count, keeps our democracy strong and protects it against those who may seek to undermine it.

Last word to Churchill: "No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

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