The Independent (London, UK) Editorials, Friday, January 7, 2022 America needs to move on from the Capitol riot for its democracy to heal A year on from the infamous events of 6 January 2021, and what has changed for America? Depressingly little it would seem. Indeed, for some, notably former president Donald J Trump, the "stolen" election of November 2020 has still not been concluded, still less accepted. A Trump press spokesperson, the latest in a long line of those charged with defending the indefensible, insists that the "real insurrection" occurred when some vast conspiracy involving the Democrats and virtually every state, federal, law enforcement and judicial body delivered the White House to Joe Biden, a man painted as virtually a foreign agent of China or (ironically) Russia, and a man set on implementing a socialist people's republic and abolishing the construction. [...] For some, there is the hope, and for others a profound fear, that the 6 January insurrection is a kind of dress rehearsal for the election of 2024, an inspiration for those who have decided already that not only will Donald Trump run in 2024, but that he will win - and if the ballots and the counts suggest otherwise then they will be overturned by a show of force. Because, as Mr Trump told them twelve months ago, "you have to fight". Many of his followers are inclined to believe that he was not merely speaking figuratively, but like General Patton in the movies, issuing his call to arms on the eve of battle. President Biden is entirely right to think that his predecessor holds "singular responsibility" for the "chaos and carnage"; so is Vice President Harris correct to think the danger of political violence is becoming endemic. But they might have been better advised not to say so. American democracy is fragile, but it survived. This is still a time for healing. America is as polarised as at any time since the traumas of the 1960s, and one of the reasons so many in the nation turned to him was because they were exhausted by the ceaseless conflicts of the brief Trump era, and they yearned for peace and quiet, and "sleepy" Joe Biden seemed to offer a much-needed analgesic. Mr Biden hardly needs to remind people about Mr Trump's culpability for 6 January, and there are FBI, police and Congressional inquiries set on demonstrating that anyway. For Trump's supporters, what Mr Biden says is irrelevant at best and a provocation at worst. "Let's go Brandon" is their response. There is little doubt that the 2016 election and what followed only served to further polarise an already bitterly divided political culture - but American politics was in a fairly ropey condition even before the great Trump disruption. Race, migration, economic inequalities, "culture wars" and a disconnected, disdainful elite were all themes exploited by the Trump campaign and then the Trump administration, but they were not invented by Donald Trump. America's political shape no longer resembles a bell curve - more twin peaks. It is almost perfectly divided into two entrenched halves towards the extremes, with a relatively small band of voters almost marooned in the centre ground. The system invented by the founding fathers is flexible and durable enough to have survived the onslaught of the Trump years, but is still ill-suited to delivering a stable, majoritarian government that commands the respect of all sections of the electorate. Parties in Congress, like the people, are divided upon themselves and, as institutions, legislature and the executive have been in a state of cold war for decades, periodically unable to even agree on a budget and pay federal employees. The country and the world know very well what went wrong in the Trump years. America needs a president who will help them heal but too many, Mr Biden included, don't seem to want to put 2020 and 2021 behind them.

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