A Wake-Up Call

A Wake-Up Call Photo: Cameron Smith/Unsplash

The violence in Washington and the storming of the capitol, the symbol of the parliamentary system of the United States and the free world, were shocking. The US is our friend and partner, and we stand alongside the overwhelming majority of Americans, both Democrats and Republicans, in distancing ourselves from the attackers and condemning this incident in the strongest possible terms. This sad event should serve as a wake-up call for everyone – in the US, but also here in Germany – who avow themselves to the western and liberal democratic order. Populist attacks on this order should be countered resolutely and categorically rejected. Not only do they hinder the formation of political will, they also damage the standing of democracy in the world.

While the pictures from D.C. are not representative of the US as a whole, the current social divide in the US runs deep and stems from economic and social inequality and the emergence of parallel media spheres. Outgoing President Donald Trump actively furthered this divide during his time in office, and also bears responsibility for the escalation that took place on January 6, which he spurred on by spreading misinformation regarding the election, discrediting the media, and aggressively showing sympathy for extreme-right groups and conspiracy theories. Trump’s violation of democratic norms should be spelled out clearly and should have consequences.

Even though the inauguration of the new administration will be overshadowed by the attack on the capitol and the continuing division in the country, we are hopeful that the wake-up call will be heard.

As close partners of the US, we as Europeans should refrain from finger-wagging – the commitment to a democratic order is not self-evident in Europe either. It has to be fought for and defended decisively, time and time again. Even if it may take a long time to heal the wounds – 2021 offers the opportunity for a new beginning and a clear commitment to democracy and unity. We reach out to and support our American friends in this endeavor.

The Atlantik-Brücke board of directors

Sigmar Gabriel, Chairman

Professor Dr. Michael Hüther, Vice-Chairman

Dr. Norbert Röttgen, Vice-Chairman

Ute Wolf, Treasurer

Dr. David Deißner, Executive Director

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