U.S. politicians have for long been preaching America as the epitome of democracy and working indefatigably to promote its values and systems abroad.
The latest political turmoil and violence in Washington, however, have debunked the myth of American exceptionalism.
Exactly one week before leaving office, U.S. President Donald Trump becomes the first U.S. head of state to be impeached twice as House Democrats, joined by ten Republicans, charged him with inciting the deadly siege of the U.S. Capitol last week.
The eye-opening political drama came as much of the United States was still reeling from the chaotic and violent scenes of the storming of the Capitol building by an angry group of Trump supporters that left five people dead.
Just as President of the Council on Foreign Relations Richard Haass said, what has recently happened “should put an end to the notion of American exceptionalism, of an eternal shining city on a hill.”
After the deadly encounter at the U.S. Capitol, U.S. politicians across the aisle rushed to pin the blame on the current administration.
However, they are missing the irony of practicing finger-pointing: when you point the index finger at someone, inevitably you have three fingers pointing right back at yourself. For years, Washington politicians seem to have lost the ability to solve problems for ordinary Americans. The unprecedented political violence at the Capitol building was the culmination of years-long governance by instigating animosity towards political rivals.
Instead of expanding common ground and seeking social consensus, political elites from both parties have resorted to extreme partisanship to rally their supporters against each other.
For those self-dealing politicians, their political capital transcends the interests of the country and the people. In the past 12 months, despite the dire reality that the COVID-19 pandemic was wreaking havoc across the country, the two parties were still reluctant to put aside their political rivalry and start building consensus even though people’s lives are at stake.
As Trump’s term is coming to an end, it becomes apparent that U.S. politicians are nurturing the idea that all the political chaos will be off with Trump’s departure.
That is also part of their motive to impeach Trump in the waning days of his term in office: to disqualify him from ever holding office again.
Unfortunately for America, the illusion of those political elites is probably a more toxic recipe for future instability.