Who upholds American democracy?PARK HYUN-YOUNG
The author is a Washington correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo.
The world after the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden on Jan. 20 is completely different from the world before the inauguration. Before the inauguration, I was nervous what supporters of former president Donald Trump or Trump himself would do. Concrete structures to prevent suicide bombing were installed along the dozens of blocks from the Capitol to the White House, and car traffic was blocked. I had to walk to my office in the restricted area for a week. I felt bitter walking down downtown Washington with the National Guard in combat gear holding guns.
The refusal of Trump and his avid supporters seemed never-ending, but after Biden’s inauguration, it disappeared all at once. What made the “mad” crowd quiet? The main reasons could be the closure of Trump’s Twitter account and losing power, but the key figure effectively disabling Trump was Senator Mitch McConnell, now the senate minority leader.
After ardently defending Trump for four years, McConnell ended the game by saying, “The voters, the courts and the states have all spoken. They’ve all spoken. If we overrule them, it would damage our republic forever.” At the first impeachment trial over the Ukraine scandal, he unconditionally sided with Trump and said that the possibility of a guilty verdict was zero. What made him turn against Trump?
Those who know McConnell say that the main reason was the companies threatening to end funding to Republican politicians. New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer wrote, “McConnell, who once infamously declared that the three most important ingredients for political success in America are ‘money,’ ‘money’ and ‘money,’ was reportedly alarmed.” More than 10 companies, including AT&T and Marriott, announced they would end political donations to 147 Republican Senators and Representatives who opposed verification of the election result. Hallmark Cards even asked Josh Hawley, who led the efforts to reject Biden’s victory, to return donations.
Seventy-four million American voters voted for Trump, and only 32 percent of Republicans believe the presidential election was free and fair, according to a poll by Morning Consult from Jan. 22 to 25. It must have not been an easy decision for U.S. companies to give up this big market.
Some are voicing worries about the status of the United States. But looking at it up close, America is more solid than I thought. The strength comes from the power of the court that made decisions based on the law despite the incumbent president’s threats to file lawsuits. The power also comes from cabinet secretaries who resigned — though some consider them jumping off the sinking boat first — and from U.S. enterprises that can punish wrong actions of politicians.