OPINION - One year on from the US Capitol insurrection – whither democracy in America?

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  • Donald Trump
    Donald Trump
    45th President of the United States
 (West End Final)
(West End Final)

British politics would be in better shape if The West Wing – Aaron Sorkin’s drama about a group of White House staffers doing their gosh-darn hardest to change the world – had never aired.

Indeed, my admittedly snarky rule is that no one should be allowed to discuss US politics in this country without first listing the names of at least two European leaders (the German Chancellor and French President don’t count for these purposes). Cheat sheet provided here.

Yet it would be remiss of me not to mark the one-year anniversary of January 6 2021, when supporters of defeated presidential candidate Donald Trump stormed the US Capitol over the Big Lie – that the 2020 election was in some way stolen. It wasn’t.

The rioters failed to overturn the result of the election, which Joe Biden won by 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232 – and by more than seven million in the popular vote.

Yet the real coup attempt came later, when 147 Republican Senators and Representatives – including two-thirds (!) of the party’s members of the House of Representatives – voted not to certify (essentially to overturn) the results of a free and fair election.

Republican’s were in the minority then. But polling and the weight of electoral history suggest that the Democrats may lose their slim majorities in Congress following this autumn’s midterm elections, and that therefore the Republicans will hold legislative power when the 2024 electoral college vote is counted.

Should Biden win re-election, defeating Trump or a Trump-like figure, would a Republican Congress certify the results? And what would a United States that had essentially given up on democracy, at least at the presidential level, mean for the rest of the free world?

Britain has its own domestic problems, from Brexit fallout to the spiralling cost of living, child poverty and various secessionist movements. But whatever you think of our political leaders and their parties, we can at least have confidence that no matter the result of the next general election, the loser will lose and the winner will win.

Elsewhere in the paper – in reassuringly prosaic if hardly upbeat news – West End chiefs have pleaded with the RMT union to call off the longest strike in Tube history to help businesses recover from the pandemic.

In the comment pages, Defence Editor Robert Fox has written a fascinating column on what on earth is going on with Russia, the threat it poses to its neighbours and, by extension us. A must-read for those (including me) hoping not to have to pay attention to this one.

Meanwhile, our leader column argues that Novak Djokovic is a lesson for those who tangle with vaccine rules: life is going to get harder.

And finally, Katie Rosseinsky previews the must-watch TV of 2022, from the Game of Thrones prequel to the return of Derry Girls.

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