The scenes of violence in Washington on 6 January have attracted a mountain of commentary in media from across the political spectrum. The general formula has been to heap condemnation on Trump for stoking the flames of insurrection. And to be sure, Trump’s behaviour has taken his presidency to new depths of depravity, even by its own standards. By openly encouraging the mob, he is himself complicit in the violence that has led to the deaths of five people, as well as scores of arrests and over 50 injured law enforcement personnel. Now, Trump has attained the dubious distinction of becoming the first president in US history to have been impeached by the House of Representatives twice.
But to focus solely on Trump is to miss a wider point. The idea that everything in the US was hunky-dory before Trump came along is just as dangerous as Trump himself. The Democrats’ failure to offer an alternative to endless war abroad and crushing austerity at home created the petri dish in which Trump’s brand of far-right faux populism could thrive.