On January 6th, 2021, the US experienced its 2nd attempted coup d’etat since 1898, this time from citizens disgruntled over Trump losing the 2020 presidential election. The definition of a coup or coup d'état is removing an existing government from power, usually through violent means. Terms denoting similar actions are worth defining; (1) Treason - the crime of betraying one's country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government, (2) Sedition - conduct or speech inciting people to rebel against the authority of a state or monarch, (3) Insurrection - a violent uprising against an authority or government. Beyond the definition and reason for the actions are how these matters will be addressed. History is waiting to be made.
Will the Biden-Harris Administration be the history makers of the 21st century? If they are, how they will make history is yet to be seen. The US issues are broad; inequality, health, the environment, police reform, immigration, diversity, and democracy. The ways history can be made going forward are equally as broad. As one section, inequality has enough subsections to take up the first four years of the new administration or longer. The financial, political, social and racial inequality in America is at the seat of US national discord and all the unrest that has occurred, starting with Trump’s election.
Countries watching these issues play out will add to the history. On January 7th, international headlines mocked the “fragile Western democracy.” The images that accompanied the headlines will be remembered forever. Iran’s Rouhani pointed out that the world's greatest nation failure to stop average citizens from breaching the Capitol. In a position to leave a strong mark on near-future history, Iran is likely to contribute a different kind of insurrection or show of power that involves the threat of nuclear weapons. The recently signed Abraham Accord brought pressure to Iran and positioned it as an outsider. We have seen through Trump protestors what happens when outsiders are left to fester in anger. As Israel, the UAE, and Bahrain lean towards democracy, with five additional nations expected to follow (including Saudi Arabia), Iran represents the last stand against democracy. An alignment with Russia appears inevitable, perhaps with support from Turkey. Look for Iran to make history.
China mocked the “beautiful sight” of mobs easily storming a building full of America’s leaders. Here, the sentiment is about “karma” and “retribution” as the country recalled US Speaker of the House Pelosi making a similar comment about the sight of Chinese pro-democracy protestors stormed the Legislative Council Complex in Hong Kong. China has been creating most of the world’s economic and trade history for the past ten years. Likely to come is more economic history from China, replacing the US as the global economic hegemon. Though COVID-19 has affected all countries’ economies, its aftermath weighs heavily on a US financial system that was already full of financial inequality. While democrats and republicans in America piece together deep differences, the Biden-Harris administration is tasked with shaping the result of those differences to reflect economic power on the world stage.
Russia will no doubt weigh in heavily on near history. The country has enjoyed four years of weekly, if not daily mention in US media for its chess-like strategy to use US public opinion against its democracy. Referred to as an “archaic” electoral system, Russian political figures see the politicization of the media (which they created) as an impetus to the January 6th US Capitol siege. That in and of itself is historic and worthy of a separate article; that Russia fertilized the January 6th US insurrection by manipulating a weak, egotistical leader and his followers. The history that Russia will create next is to be determined (TBD).
Reverting to US history, I’m not convinced the insurrectionists are finished. With the historic turnover of Georgia going blue and the Biden-Harris inauguration days away, Washington, DC curfews may remain in effect throughout January to assure the peaceful transfer of power. Factions of this mob are likely to line the streets as Trump leaves the White House permanently. Moreover, history is TBD regarding the invocation of US Constitution Article 25, essentially barring Trump from doing anything but watching television for his remaining time in the White House. The Vice President, tasked to turn the electoral votes in Trumps favor, would need to agree to this, making history even more dramatic.
What’s important for global partners and adversaries alike is that the Biden-Harris team ought to create a new history that affects capitalism’s ills and the holes within democracy. Biden's selection of Kamala Harris as Vice President marks the initiation of history. The most significant change to acknowledge around the world is the power of the citizen. Politics and policy have been created top-down since the dawn of the modern world. The lesson broadcasted around the world on January 6th was that ‘people’ have the power to force bottom-up approaches. This is not to condone the behavior of the Trump followers, only to say that human agency plays a role more powerful than expected. Russia might take a bow for historically influencing US public opinion and indirectly fostering the protestor insurrection. Yet, check-mate comes in the truth that they have ultimately changed the course of history in favor of the individual - not political power. Average citizens run the world. Average citizens will write our near-history.