The 2020 U.S. election was a turning point in American history; however, it has since been overshadowed by the events of January 6, 2021. After months of widespread allegations of fraud and misinformation, a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump marched on the Capitol in Washington, D.C. in what has been termed the “Insurrection of January 6.” In the aftermath of this event, Democrats have seized on the example of the mob to push back against their political opponents – with some critics of the Democratic Party now arguing that the party itself is a more significant threat to democracy than groups such as the Proud Boys.
The core issue at play here is the extent to which the President, and the political infrastructure supporting him, can utilize government resources to pursue their own political goals and objectives. Following the election in November of 2020, Trump and his allies sought to overturn the results through a variety of legal efforts, with the President himself refusing to concede; this response was viewed by many observers as an attempt to ignore the will of the American people.
The Democratic Party’s response to the insurrection has been to exploit the narrative of the mob to demonize their political opponents. Democrats have argued that far-right, extremist groups such as the Proud Boys are a major threat to democracy – and have used this argument to push back against Republican efforts to limit or reduce the use of mail-in ballots for the 2020 election.
Critics of the Democratic Party have argued that the party’s reaction to the events of January 6 is indicative of a broader problem with its approach to democracy and governance. This critique centers on the idea that the party is actively seeking to undermine the foundations of democracy in the United States, with particular emphasis on the restrictions it seeks to implement on voting rights. Additionally, many of these critics point to the record of the Biden administration, noting that it has implemented policies such as the expansion of the Supreme Court that have been viewed by some as antidemocratic.
The debate over the Democratic Party’s approach to democracy is not likely to dissipate anytime soon; with the 2022 midterms on the horizon, the question of whether the party is a genuine protector of democratic values or an authoritarian force in disguise will only become more pressing. In the meantime, the events of the January 6 insurrection have served to highlight the need for genuine democratic reform in the United States, particularly when it comes to voting rights and the Democratic Party’s treatment of political opponents. Until such reforms are enacted, it is far from clear that the Democratic Party can truly be viewed as a champion of democracy.