On 6 January 2020, the supporters of US President Donald Trump stormed Capitol Hill. Given the importance of the USA in the world politics, American elections have gathered more attention than many country’s own elections. Social media received a meteoric response from netizens and leaders around the world over the incident. Some call it a coup attempt and others name it the death of democracy. After the incident, top Democratic Congress leaders urged Vice President Mike Pence to invoke 25th Amendment to the US Constitution to impeach Donald Trump for “incitement of insurrection.” It seems that USA has exported so much of democracy that only a little has been left for home.
Howsoever unfortunate the incident may seem one must accept the fact that US survived a demagogue. Trump’s attempt to remain in power is diminutive when compared with other powerful leaders. The world is now being laid by leaders who capitalize the democratic process to undermine the democratic machineries. For example, Tayyip Erdogan assumed office of the Prime Minister in 2003 and continued till 2014. From 2014 onwards he is serving the President of Turkey. Meanwhile, he abolished the post of Prime Minister and, therefore, President is the head of the State in Turkey. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei was chosen by the Assembly of Experts in 1989 for the post of Supreme Leader. The constitution was amended to depict him as “Islamic Scholar, enabling him to be selected. Then he was elevated overnight from the cleric rank of Hojjat al-Islam to ayatollah. For many years, scholars considered Brazil as the world’s leading laboratory of democratic innovations. However, Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro also described as “tropical Trump”, has been accused of undermining the democratic institution. Vladimir Putin can now be the President of Russia upto 2036 if he chooses. These are just a few examples of how a democracy is decremented, institutions are undermined and rules are changed by the powerful and popular leaders to remain in power. A trifling friction during the transfer of power is far better than having no transfer of power at all.
Whatever we may name Jan 6 incident; it is a reminder as to why liberal democracies cannot afford to have elected autocrats and demagogue. Donald Trump and leaders like him are just like the “dream stone” depicted in Wonder Woman 1984. They all seek support by appealing to the desires and prejudices of ordinary people rather than by using rational argument. These people undermine the democratic and constitutional institutions, they undermine the ideal on which a nation has been built upon and never fail to overreach the power they have been conferred upon by the Constitution of their country.
Author: Mohd Imran is the Founder of the Indian Society for Legal Research. The views are personal.