By Lucia Leal
Washington, Jan 6 (EFE).- The first anniversary of the attack on the US Capitol on Thursday highlighted the deep divisions within the country regarding one of the most serious incidents in its history, with Democrats united in condemning the assault and the majority of Republicans immersed in denialism.
President Joe Biden delivered his harshest speech to date against his predecessor, Donald Trump, whom he accused of continuing to perpetrate the Big Lie that the 2020 election was stolen, valuing “power over principle” and seeing “his own interests as more powerful than his country’s interests. Because his bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution.”
Biden also said that Trump incited hundreds of his supporters to attack the Capitol in an attempt to stop lawmakers there from certifying the result of the election.
Without ever mentioning Trump’s name, Biden transformed his speech into a blistering indictment of the former president, who a year after the assault is continuing to hold the reins of the Republican Party and has convinced the majority of conservative voters that the 2020 election was “stolen.”
“We must be absolutely clear about what is true and what is a lie. And here’s the truth: The former president of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election,” Biden said.
Biden called Trump “a defeated former president,” saying he is driven by “profit and power” over principle and adding that the former president “can’t accept he lost” and must not be allowed to “rewrite history.”
Biden said that Trump lost the 2020 election by more than seven million votes, and election that he called “free and fair.”
Besides Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris warned that US democracy is “fragile” and is “at risk,” in part due to the restrictions on voting that Republicans have implemented in 19 states over the past year.
Biden promised to remain alert to the possibility that those measures could help Republicans turn around an election result that did not favor them in the next election cycles: the mid-term elections this November and the presidential election in 2024.
“I will defend this nation and allow no one to place a dagger at the throat of democracy,” he warned.
When asked after the speech about whether he was concerned that his criticism of Trump could worsen the divisions in the country, Biden responded to reporters by saying that for the nation to heal itself, Americans need to acknowledge the seriousness of its wounds.
The day of commemoration and reflection in Congress made clear that Republicans do not share Biden’s view, with only one GOP lawmaker – Congresswoman Liz Cheney – attending the congressional sessions convened by the Democratic majority in both chambers and several insisting on downplaying what occurred.
Republic Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell described in a statement the Jan. 6, 2021, attack as a “dark day” and said that the Capitol was “stormed by criminals who brutalized police officers and used force to try to stop Congress from doing its job.”
However, he went on to accuse Democrats of trying to “exploit this anniversary to advance partisan policy goals that long predated this event. It is especially jaw-dropping to hear some Senate Democrats invoke the mob’s attempt to disrupt our country’s norms, rules and institutions as a justification to discard our norms, rules and institutions themselves.”
McConnell did not mention the role that Trump played in fomenting the violence.
Almost a year after Trump was acquitted in his second impeachment in Congress over his responsibility in the Capitol attack, the denialist discourse continues to predominate in GOP ranks and the few conservative lawmakers who voted to convict the ex-president have been made virtual pariahs within the party.
That trend can be explained by recent public opinion surveys in which almost 70 percent of Republican voters still believe that Trump had reelection stolen from him by Biden, 66 percent do not believe that the Capital assault was an attack on the country’s democratic institutions and many describe what occurred as an act of “patriotism.”
Trump, who had canceled a press conference at his residence at Mar-a-Lago in Florida, could not resist the temptation to respond to Biden after the president’s speech, accusing him of having “used my name today to try to further divide America.”
In a series of three statements issued via his political action group, the ex-president once again insisted on his baseless claim that massive fraud occurred in the 2020 vote and that attention should be focused on that bogus issue rather than on the Capitol attack, which left five people dead and 140 police and security officers injured by the angry mob of Trump supporters who stormed the legislative seat.