While Twitter may have permanently suspended Donald J. Trump’s account, the legacy of what has become known as Trumpism will live on for a long time. What the world bewilderedly watched in last week happening on the US Capitol Hill, the federal legislative arm of the United States, was only a display of what is still to come. America will no longer be the same.
To stave off the impact of this event and to ensure that the ripple effects are not ingrained in American society, Twitter, Congress now firmly in the hands of the Democrats, together with the rest of the Establishment started working in overdrive to guarantee that the push for change which has marked American politics since the economic crisis of 2008/9 will not continue.
From the year 100 before common era when an angry mob broke into the Roman Senate house on the alleged instigation of Marius, then consul of the Roman Republic, to the storming of the Bastille in 1789, from the occupation of Wall Street in 2011 to our occupation of specific university buildings on our campuses here in 2015/16, the occupation of symbolic buildings has always been part of protest for change by the people.
Say what we may of the handling of the Capitol crowd by police compared to their handling of #BlackLivesMatter protests or the nature of the crowd itself, allegedly predominantly White nationalist working class men, the crowd on Capitol Hill is a culmination of the marginalization of this group of people, whether right or wrong, in American society.
Instead of tackling the bankers and investors who caused the 2008 crash and who are the financiers of the Establishment, Barak Obama allowed for these to get off scot-free when he took office. The majority of middle- and working-class Americans, White and Black, felt the crunch the most and it was easy for a figure such as Donald Trump to emerge.
What the 6 January Occupation symbolizes is that even as Trump leaves the White House, even under protest, there remains a sizeable number of Americans who feel marginalized and they are rebelling. They are rebelling against the system; as the Romans, French, occupiers of Wall Street and South African students did.
YouGov put out a poll on the evening of 6 January on the protests on Capitol Hill. Nearly half, 45 percent, of Republicans said they supported the protestors while 93 percent of Democrats strongly opposed the protests. However, there is little guarantee to even these Democrats that change will come for the better for ordinary Americans now that Biden, and not Sanders or Warren, has emerged. What instinctively happened is that Trump became a scapegoat for a larger problem in the United States. He only simply represents sentiments numerous enough to have gotten him elected four years ago.
The storming of the Bastille in July 1789 came has a highlight in the French Revolution. George Washington praised the Revolution when, in October that year, he is reported to have said that “the revolution which has been effected in France is of so wonderful a nature that the mind can hardly recognize the fact…” The American establishment is as far removed from Washington today as they are from the American people.
This is not to defend the opportunistic despot that is Donald Trump. All despots are opportunistic in fact. Nor is this a defense of the violence of 6 January which claimed four lives. Though this violence is understandable for the American society by its very establishment and nature was and is violent.
What this is about though is understanding that the American establishment, now through the Democrats and their quickly new found allies in the Republicans, will make sure that the so-called insurrection of 6 January is condemned. It will demonize those who are sympathetic to calling for change while re-affirming the system that has been solidly founded. This Establishment can fool some people all of the time but they cannot fool everyone all of the time.
Wesley Seale has a Ph.D. in international relations.