A Dark day for American Democracy: Is this a video game?
Updated: Jan 13, 2021
Daylight. A government building is surrounded. It’s a multiplayer game. The protagonists, men and women in costume, eagle faces, animal fur and striped in war paint. The opposition, armed police ( an inside job?) somehow overrun by a mob who have burst into office buildings, throwing out politicians, scuffed boots haphazardly rest on an office table for a photo, official objects carried away gleefully, the chaos is being live streamed, reveling in the disorder. No, this is not a new level of Halo you’ve yet to hear about or a classic dystopian episode of Black Mirror, but a description of very surreal, real life events that took place in Washington DC last week, much to the shock of the world.
To go into the intricacies of who is responsible for this riot requires more of a deep dive into the American political landscape, than we’re able to do here. But, what we wanted to know at ThisThat was how people felt in the aftermath. Was this simply an inevitable manifestation of the conspiracy theories on voter fraud coming to fruition, the only natural culmination of Trump’s rhetoric and therefore a valid representation of the American people? Or, did most feel that it was, quite simply an embarrassment, and something that many would sooner rather forget?
A few interesting findings from our survey A Dark Day for American Democracy:
When asked how to conclude the events at the Capitol, an encouraging 73% of American voters considered the attack on the Capitol an embarrassment. For such a large crowd to so boldly refute the election results in a rally, to so brazenly enforce white supremacy (with one rioter proudly holding the confederate flag) and in the midst of a world wide pandemic (!) no less, is pretty damning.
However, 80% of Trump voters claim that the attack on the Capitol was not his fault… These disparate opinions go some way to reflect the polarization of politics and the American people at this time. Interestingly, when we cross filter both non-and American voters, the majority claim that Trump has increasingly polarized the USA. Whether you are Pro or anti-Trump, an acknowledgement that he has added fuel to the fire and created a bifurcation of opinion, so much so he has singlehandedly (along with the help of right wing media) created an alternative version of reality, is definitely clear in our results.
Currently, America is grappling with an unprecedented threat to its democracy. The democrats have launched a second attempt to impeach Trump. This will mean most importantly he cannot run (and make America great) again…. A striking 96% of non-American voters claim that Trump should be impeached, whereas the majority of American voters think otherwise. International opinion is clear with regards to Trump, but his ability to both surround himself with yes men, refuse to concede to reality and perpetuate his own mythology has meant a heady cocktail of misinformation has percolated throughout the more right wing inclined side of the internet and the American voter. His recent ban from Twitter, Facebook and even Pinterest (no Donald you shall not make a new office inspo board with MAGA hats and pot plants), reflects that the tech world has finally taken responsibility for its part in this perverted patriotic narrative.
The Black Lives Matter protests are still at the forefront of peoples’ minds, and cast a stark contrast in regards to police response and brutality. Regardless of political stance, the majority of respondents agree that BLM protestors are more likely to be victims of police brutally than MAGA supporters. This may seem like an obvious point to make, but considering the contention that surrounded the BLM protests in the summer, with MAGA supporters brandishing guns at peaceful protests, it seems an important and humanizing one to be made.
It’s only the start of the year, but a lot of the issues of 2020 have been carried into this year. The top 3 concerns of our respondents were racism – which was in the top 83% of any option, closely followed by Covid-19 (82%), then the environment which won 68% of the time when pitted against other alternatives in tournament mode.
This week our survey provided an interesting insight into the emotional aftermath of a historic event, one that sent aftershocks throughout the world and will no doubt have an impact long beyond this year. We can only hope, it will be one for the good.