Washington, DC – Below is a column by Maribel Hastings and David Torres from America’s Voice en Español translated to English from Spanish. It ran in several Spanish-language media outlets earlier this week.
One would think, perhaps innocently, that cataclysmic events have the effect of making people change their methods, their priorities—or become more conscious of the fragility that surrounds us on various matters, including politics. But on that front specifically, it seems like the lessons learned have been few.
Right now, we continue to hear, read, and see political messages with the same racist and anti-immigrant tone on the part of Republican candidates—those who not only attack minority communities, but are positioned to be, yet again, among the voters who granted power to one of the most xenophobic presidents in the history of the United States.
Let’s review. Almost six years have transpired since the 2016 elections that ushered in Trumpism and its subsequent disasters on various fronts, especially at the constitutional and democratic levels; almost two years have passed since the 2020 general election that Joe Biden won, but Donald Trump claimed was fraudulent, an argument that resulted in the January 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol by violent followers of Trump, and his attempted coup d’état to block Biden’s certification as president-elect. The chaos resulted in deaths.
Those who followed the events of that day live could see firsthand how disinformation; the propagation of lies as if they were truth; and racism, xenophobia, ignorance, and ill willl combined to make a lethal cocktail affecting life, property, and democracy itself.
It’s not an “action and intrigue” television series, but the reality in today’s United States, that showed the world the complaints of a segment of society that has never understood the historic privilege of diversity and inclusion. And also hasn’t understood the meaning of democracy.
When Biden finally assumed the presidency, he inherited not only the disasters of Trump’s scandalous presidency, but also the pandemic which had repercussions on the economy, on top of a nation that is pitifully divided. He’s had to deal with foreign wars, like the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and internal wars, taking place in his own Democratic Party, or rather led by conservative Democrats—Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona—who paralyzed Biden’s agenda in Congress through their opposition to central measures like the urgent investment plan. Biden is also yet another president who has to deal with the scourge of easy access to weapons that, added to racial prejudices promoted by white nationalists, have resulted in massacres targeting minorities.
Equally sad examples abound. But the most recent ones inflame the danger and anxiety in which minorities like Latinos live, such as the El Paso massacre in 2019, which left 23 people dead at the hands of a 21 year-old white supremacist who believed in the “Hispanic invasion” conspiracy theory.
Add inflation to that, and the panorama appears catastrophic for anyone who presides over this nation.
It’s no coincidence that Biden’s approval ratings are abysmal in this midterm election year, when it is feared that the Democrats will possibly lose control of both chambers of Congress.
But parallel to this panorama, in the three ring circus that is U.S. politics, congressional hearings about the events of January 6 are coming to a head and have revealed scandalous facts about Trump’s role, not only in having implored the mob to go to the Capitol, but failing to do anything as Commander in Chief to stop the chaos, even when the mob was looking for Vice President Mike Pence, to hang him.
In fact, the hearings that have taken place to determine what really happened that day and the degree of influence the former president had on this shameful event have shown us, with a level of crudeness, that basically, a mafia was installed in power in the most democratic country in the world, with bad intentions that could—and still may—forever mar the political and democratic history of the United States.
The hearings have shined a light on Trump’s role before, during, and after the January 6, 2021 assault; documented, step by step, how a U.S. president tried to corrupt state and elections officials to alter the results of the election; and how his aides and closest circle knew that there was no fraud, but allowed Trump to continue with the farce to raise millions of dollars from his fans for a presumed legal battle about a “fraud” that never occurred.
It’s unbelievable to see how “justifications” for these facts continue to proliferate, both in news media slanted to the extreme right, Trumpism, and the Republican Party, and in today’s campaigns, even by Latino candidates, who continue to gain support.
However, the U.S. public’s reaction to the hearings has been rather tepid. As if nothing was in danger, nothing in play—especially when Trumpism dominates the Republican Party, and when those same Republicans continue spreading disinformation, falsehoods, xenophobia, and racism to appease their base and maintain or regain power, as the case may be.
In any other part of the world, the most conscious people would be in the streets demanding that the guilty parties pay, and also that authorities work not on behalf of an ideological or political group, but for society itself, one like the U.S.—which may belong to the developed world, but has demonstrated its lack of democratic maturity with these events.
On the other hand, as much as reasons exist to feel defrauded or disillusioned because the Democratic agenda promised in 2020 has failed to materialize, we have to be aware that we are confronting an historical moment which has demonstrated the fragility of U.S. democracy. We have to question whether now is the time to get involved in internal disputes and blame them for inaction, or if there’s a bigger matter at hand—the U.S. democracy—that requires us to decide whether, in the coming elections, we will support those who promote our interests and needs, or open the door yet again to the Trumpism that is the Republican Party, because our disillusion led us to not vote.
That is precisely the urgency with which the society of this nation must act in order to not lose the historical meaning of its democracy, and ultimately not turn itself over to those who have more than amply demonstrated that the ramifications of this political and economic mafia could put an end to the historic promise that the United States has been to this day. Not one more stumble can be allowed, or we risk losing everything.
The 2016 election is not ancient history. It happened just five and a half years ago. The internal fight among supporters of Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton led many “Sanderistas” to stay home, certain that Hillary would crush Trump. We know the rest of the story. We should avoid making the same mistake twice.
To read the Spanish version of this article click here.