By Keely Mullen (Socialist Alternative – US)

First came the notification: “Pro Trump mob breaks into Capitol building.” Then, “Congressmen being told to hide beneath their chairs,” followed by, “They’ve shot into the chambers.”

                The storming of the Capitol shocked hundreds of millions across the U.S. and around the world. The chaos that took place inside one of the pillars of American power is in many ways an embodiment of the multi-faceted crises that have engulfed the country. For hours the Capitol was under occupation by a mob, led by far right and fascist elements, determined to overturn the results of November’s election.

                Shortly after the Capitol was breached, Members of Congress were moved to a “secure location” as the far right stormed the House and Senate chambers. They wandered through the halls of Congress, stealing Nancy Pelosi’s mail, tearing down paintings. One man even walked out the front door holding an entire podium.

                The complete unpreparedness of the Capitol Police for the assault on the Capitol stood in stark contrast to the way the police responded to Black Lives Matter protests this past summer. Thousands of National Guards were mobilized to “protect the Capitol” during protests on June 1, while brutal tactics were used in city after city. It has been revealed that the far right was openly planning this operation on social media for weeks, and even that did not trigger a law enforcement response.

                In the weeks and months leading up to “the insurrection”, Trump made no attempt to hide his ambitions of a coup — remember, “Proud Boys stand back and stand by”? Up until last night, he has repeatedly stated that he will not concede or respect the results of the election. He set the stage for yesterday’s events throughout his 2020 campaign. He warned about widespread voter fraud and mail-in ballot scams. Trump made absolutely clear that anything less than a blowout victory for his campaign might as well be a stolen election.

                After the election, Trump, besides filing 60 lawsuits, sought to coerce Republican officials in key states into overturning the results. Most recently, he sought to intimidate the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, to “find” 11,000 votes on a call which was leaked. He has engaged in discussions with conspiracy theorists about declaring martial law. Finally, he tried to get the vice president, Mike Pence, to agree to unilaterally overturn the election results during the Congressional certification.


Before marching to The Capitol yesterday, Trump held a “Save America” rally where he decried disloyal Republicans like Mike Pence and Mitch McConnell, who were moving ahead with certifying Joe Biden’s victory. Trump called on his supporters to march to The Capitol and target “weak Republicans.”

                At a December pro-Trump rally in D.C. to “stop the steal,” Nick Fuentes, a far right figurehead and avowed white supremacist, shouted: “We promised that if the GOP would not do everything in their power to keep Trump in office, then we would destroy the GOP.” This was followed by an enthusiastic chant from the crowd: “Destroy the GOP!” Trump himself has called for jailing the Republican governor of Georgia and denounced Republicans who opposed him as “RINOs” (Repubican in Name Only).

                As we have consistently warned, despite Trump’s election loss and the likelihood that his attempts to overturn the election would fail because of the opposition of the corporate elite and key parts of the state apparatus, the far right is not going anywhere. In fact, under a Biden administration and the ongoing capitalist crisis, they are poised to grow even further.

                While the actual fascist and quasi-fascist groups still remain relatively small, it is quite possible that we are now witnessing the early stages of a split in the Republican Party and the development of a new right populist party made up of Trump’s hardcore.

                The lines of division in the Republican Party were starkly illustrated in the debates in Congress yesterday. When the Senate reconvened after the far-right forces were finally cleared out, most Republicans who were going to support the “objections” to the results backed down.

                The debate reflected how shaken the establishment and the ruling class — which the Senate more accurately reflects — were by yesterday’s events. Particular emphasis was laid on the damage this would cause to U.S. “standing in the world” (i.e. to the ability of imperialism to use its “democratic” credentials to protect its interests). The votes on the objections to state certifications in the Senate were 96 to 3 and 93 to 6. In the House of the other hand, the majority of the Republicans (over 120) refused to back down even in the face of scathing attacks including from a minority of Republican Congressmen.

                Overall, yesterday’s events were a defeat for Trump, forcing him to formally concede in the face of enormous ruling class pressure. This was something he had no intention of doing at the start of the day. It is of course possible that he will change course again in the coming days but the political establishment as a whole, including key elements of the Republican leadership, are preparing to evict him from the White House if he tries to stay after January 20.

                Republican divisions were also a key reason why Republican incumbents lost their Georgia Senate seats. Part of Trump’s base refused to vote for Loeffler and Purdue, in part because of the general sense among Trump’s supporters that the election would be rigged. Former Trump lawyer Lin Wood spoke at a number of MAGA rallies discouraging Georgia’s Trump supporters from voting for Loeffler or Perdue because they’ve been insufficiently loyal to Trump. He said: “They have not earned your vote. Don’t you give it to them.”


As the dust starts to settle on yesterday’s events, millions are wondering: what the hell comes next?

                The political establishment in both parties are running their mouths about the need to recapture the soul of the American people. Play-nice-politics and returns-to-normal. Biden has urged “simple decency.” He also has a long history of prizing “bi-partisanship” with reactionary Republicans. Biden may see McConnell’s pivot away from Trump as a signal to go further down this path. Many people see through these hollow platitudes and are wondering, “ok but really, what next?”

                Amid the fear about the growth of far-right forces, the left and labor movement is presented with an urgent task. History teaches us that the only real defense we have against the threat of the far right, which is a product of the decay of capitalism, is a united, mass, multi-racial, movement of working class people. We saw this just a few years ago in Boston where 40,000 marched against the far right in the wake of Charlottesville and put them on the back foot for a whole period.

                However, rather than taking this opportunity to call for mass action to shut down this attempted coup, left leaders like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are facing the wrong direction. Rather than issuing a call for mass demonstrations, or even vaguely urging the left and labor movement to get organized, she tweeted: “Impeach.” This has been followed by a hurried effort among squad members to draw up new articles of impeachment. In a similar vein, Cori Bush, newly elected squad member, is introducing a resolution to expel the Congressmen who “incited this domestic terror attack.”

                These tactics would be fine as a side dish to a much larger strategy to mobilize working people, but that is not what these left leaders are doing. They are going no further than establishment Democrats like Chuck Schumer who is calling on the Cabinet to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office.