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The Last Transgression

Francis Fukuyama

We at  American Purpose would like to express our shock and outrage at the violent assault on the United States Congress that took place on January 6, as well as the efforts of certain members of Congress to overturn the results of the free and fair election on November 3. None of this would have happened but for the unwillingness of President Donald Trump to concede his loss to President-elect Joe Biden, breaking the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power that has been the hallmark of American democracy for well over two centuries.

American Purpose was founded to articulate a defense of classical liberalism from its enemies on both the left and right. At the moment, there is a clear and present danger from Trump supporters who are increasingly willing to turn to violent means to get their way. We recognize that many of the more than seventy million Americans who voted for him did so not so much because they admired Trump the person, but because they felt he supported policies or cultural stances that were more in line with their values than those of the Democrats. His rise was enabled by mainstream Republicans who understood his defects, but were willing to overlook them because they thought he would carry out their agenda, or were simply afraid of Republican voters. Trump has convinced many of his supporters that he won in a landslide, and they genuinely believe the election was stolen from him.

It is time now for these voters to make a clear break with Trump and Trumpism. It is simply too dangerous to do otherwise. We need to regain trust in our own institutions. Ninety-two Senators, including forty-five Republicans, voted to uphold the legitimacy of the November election, and many of them—like Senators Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC)—made strong statements expressing their commitment to the Constitution rather than to Donald Trump. The American judicial system has also spoken clearly to reject Trump’s claims of electoral fraud. Trump’s refusal to concede remains far outside the range of what is acceptable in a modern liberal democracy, and if it were to occur in a new or struggling democracy in a developing country, we would condemn it.

We at  American Purpose believe that America does indeed have a larger purpose in promoting liberal democratic ideas around the world. Sadly, the country has effectively abdicated this mission in recent years, and no longer provides a model to be emulated by others as its own institutions have succumbed to dysfunction. Our magazine will do everything it can to help fix our own politics and institutions, so that the United States can return to being a beacon of democracy for people around the world.

Francis Fukuyama, chairman of the editorial board of  American Purpose, directs the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law at Stanford University.

AuthoritariansimDemocracyUnited States