The siege of Washington DC's Capitol Hill by supporters of US President Donald Trump reflects a nation deeply divided on political lines.
Even an event as shocking as the insurrection on Capitol Hill, hasn't united Americans. On the contrary it has brought the divisions to the fore.
45 percent Republicans approve of storming Capitol building
- As many as 45 percent of Republicans actually approve of the storming of the capitol building, according to a survey by YouGov. Among those who believe that there has been “fraud” during the presidential elections, as many as 56 percent support the storming of the Capitol building.
- Among all registered voters, 71 percent opposed the storming of the Capitol building. Among democrats, it is 96 percent.
Is Trump to blame?
There is also a divide on the culpability of President Donald Trump in what happened.
- 90 percent of Democratic voters and 55 percent of registered voters blamed Trump "a great deal" for what happened while 53 percent Republicans said that he is "not at all to blame".
- 35 percent of all Republicans actually blamed President-elect Joe Biden "a great deal" for the storming of the Capitol building. 17 percent Republicans said he is “somewhat to blame”.
Should Trump be impeached?
There's also a complete divide on whether Trump should be impeached for allegedly inciting the mob at Capitol Hill. 83 percent of Democrats said that it would be appropriate to impeach Trump while 85 percent Republicans said it would be inappropriate to do so.
What should the mob at Capitol Hill even be called?
78 percent Democrats said they can be called "domestic terrorists". 50 percent Republicans described them as "protesters", 30 percent Republicans called them "patriots".
A Broader Political Divide
However, these divided view of the events of 6 January are only an extreme symptom of the broader political divide in the US.
The fundamental divide is on the validity of the election result itself.
- According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll in November 2020, 68 percent Republicans said they were concerned that the election was "rigged". 52 percent Republicans actually said that Trump had "rightfully won".
- The numbers put out by a CNBC/Change Research Opinion Poll from November are even more stark.
- Just three percent of Trump voters said that the accepted Biden's victory as legitimate, 73 percent of them considered Trump as the legitimate winner.
- This is important: 31 percent Trump voters said that Trump should fight it out in court until the states ratify the results but a huge 66 percent said that Trump should "never concede".
This is dangerous and explains what happened in Capitol Hill. Over 73 million people voted for Trump in the elections. If two thirds of them think that he is still think that he should never concede, it would mean that nearly 50 million people in the US doubt the legitimacy of this election.
President Trump’s constant allegations that this is a fraudulent election have worsened matters. He appears to have convinced many of his supporters he lost unfairly, even as state officials and judges have repeatedly shot down claims of fraud and wrongdoing. This has greatly harmed public faith in America's democracy.
Some, like Democratic politician of Indian origin Ameya Pawar, say that this is a culmination of Reagen’s legacy which strengthened the perception that state intervention is to be distrusted.
Many also point out that what happened at Capitol Hill could be the result of the false sense of white victimhood which Trump tapped into.
A 2017 survey by Public Religion Research Institute showed that White Evangelicals said that they were more discriminated against than even Muslims.
This section has also been fed the belief that they represent the “true America” and that it has to be saved from the “socialists” or from “immigrants”.
This may become an even bigger political problem for the United States in the post-Trump era as even his exit will be seen as part of the same victimhood.