Mexico City (CNN)Globally speaking, there’s nothing particularly unusual about insurrection.
Here in Latin America alone, there have been roughly 150 attempted coups since 1950, according to a database maintained by researchers at the University of Central Florida, not to mention protests, mobs, government-building takeovers — some giving voice to the frustrations of the oppressed, others driven by bombastic autocrats using imaginary grievances to hold on to power. On Wednesday, it was the latter. Read More But what made the moment surreal was its location: It wasn’t the boiling over of long-standing unrest in Bolivia or Venezuela, but in United States of America, where a lame duck president detached from the reality of his election loss called on supporters to fight the election certification process.US Capitol secured, woman dead after rioters stormed the halls of Congress to block Biden's win The US often points to itself as a model of democracy for the world — a claim that has long been dubious to many around the globe. It will be even more difficult to defend now; you can’t have democracy without a peaceful transfer of power between elected leaders. “The enemies of democracy will be happy to see these incredible pictures from Washington DC. Riotous words turn into violent acts,” wrote German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, after Trump supporters invaded the US Capitol building and interrupted the electoral vote count, scattering lawmakers. One woman has died dead after being shot in the chest on the Capitol grounds. One US diplomat based overseas called Wednesday’s scenes at the capital an “appalling s***show,” telling CNN that they will undermine the US’s efforts to advocate for democracy. “We will hear about it for a long time,” said the diplomat who asked not to be named. “Is this the United States or is this Venezuela?” said another US diplomat. Many of the US’ strongest allies appeared to settle on a theme in their initial public statements about the riot in Washington DC: The US and its democratic institutions will get through this, they reassured. “We are certain the US will ensure that the rules of democracy are protected,” said David Sassoli, the president of the European Council.It took a violent insurrection for Republicans to realize Donald Trump was dangerous? The foreign ministers of Spain and Costa Rica said they trusted in American democracy. So did the President of Colombia. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the United States still “stands for democracy around the world.” But it was remarkable that foreign leaders even felt the need to express support for America’s democratic system in the first place. And those are America’s friends. Global foes and rivals will relish the instability that Wednesday’s events expose. China’s Communist government has long told citizens that its system of government is more prosperous, more stable and a better model for the world. Images like those from Capitol Hill will only bolster its arguments. In Russia, accused of propagating much of the misinformation poisoning America’s civil discourse, the Kremlin surely greeted the same scenes with delight. But this can be a lesson for Americans: Democracy is not somehow fundamentally self-sustaining — it is not guaranteed or divinely ordained by some governmental god. Just like any democratic system anywhere, it needs to be nurtured and protected Most of the world doesn’t take that for granted, because many have tried and failed to do what the US has—set up and maintain a democracy that can endure for generations. But even in the US, after Wednesday’s events, it is clear that years of lies and incendiary rhetoric and attacks on democratic institutions took their toll and made it easy for millions of Americans to lose faith in their electoral process. Those actions have consequences and now threaten a once seemingly unassailable democracy. Maybe the incoming administration of President-elect Joe Biden can help remind people the successes of the past don’t guarantee the future. Maybe the US can come out of this stronger. At the very least, Americans just got a wakeup call.