Only hours after one of the dumbest debacles ever witnessed and the talk of coups, insurrection and the rise of fascism is already hot among the twitter blue checks and media. This apparently signals the fragility and/or destruction of democratic norms, all because a bunch of morons stormed a building with the most inept security arrangements, threw some papers, trashed some offices and took selfies. If this is the end of democracy then these rioters were already hitting a corpse. But of course this isn’t the end of democracy, which is little more than hot air thrown around by the press corps and politicians. Instead it’s the continuation of the same dynamics of 2020 and before.
Democracy in America is now the ballot and nothing else. Social movements, if they are not part of a lobbying coalition, are talking heads for narrow policy perspectives. The only social movements that get any sort of congressional or presidential attention are the Chambers of Commerce, Silicon Valley and national production associations. The irony of Trump’s “revelations” regarding the NDAA and coronavirus relief bills that showed the endemic influence of lobbyists when it came to the drafting of legislation is that this sort of crap has been going on for decades. Just look at every Farm Bill since the 1990s, or the Export-Import Bank, or the ordering costs of the Pentagon. America is only as democratic as its prevailing modes of production and regulation, and currently they don’t care much for unions, movements or public disapproval.
Of course occasionally a Maxine Waters or a Pelosi will throw its “support” behind Black Lives Matter or some other protest movement. But this is done with as much sincerity as that of Biden’s courting of his progressive base during the presidential election. If his cabinet picks are anything to go by, we’re hardly going to see a racial reckoning or new New Deal. Rather a thin veneer of neoliberal governance with some woke capital thrown into the mix.
Its all fake and it always has been. Congressional approval ratings have been in the toilet since the 70s, with them only going over 50% approval a handful of times. You don’t need to call it a swamp to know congressional politics is a cesspit. These riots are just another “pseudo-event” that show the direction of a post-network, non-movement politics of the event. No one genuinely cares about democratic norms or peaceful protest. Journalists and commentators of this type just happen to hold Capitol Hill in the same esteem as their gated communities and press offices. These are sacred grounds that should never be desecrated.
Much like Trump, Biden and congressional politics generally these riots are a simulacrum of actual political machinations. A political fragmentation is occurring behind them as the Republican Party splits between the Trumpists and moderates, and the Democrats split between the progressives and centrists, and the various lobbyists try to pick sides, all within an “extreme socio-economic turbulence” as economic growth stagnates and unemployment soars. The Capitol Hill riots are just antics, a circus rodeo sitting in “a field of indeterminacy…attempting to accelerate the conditions for reform or overthrow”. The norms they supposedly subvert were dead long ago.