Divided on Democracy

Anand Kamalakar
4 min readJun 16, 2022


© Elvert Barnes

The day I watched in horror, a marauding mob storming the Capitol building, I expected to see smoke rise from its windows. Watching the frenzied attackers make their way into the building breaking glass and spilling blood, I was more than certain something devastating was to come. As I saw congress members hunker down, I expected bullets to fly. I imagined to see carnage on a scale never seen before.

No serious response from law enforcement was noticeable other than the severely ill equipped outnumbered Capitol Police doing their best. The great mighty American military machine which is often equipped to launch wars in far off places at a moment’s notice, was nowhere to be seen. This convinced me that a coup was in progress.

When the person tasked with keeping Americans safe and democracy sacrosanct, was the one setting it all alight, I was certain the unthinkable was underway.

A democracy that was supposedly ingeniously designed by the founding fathers centuries ago, had found a loophole it seemed. The checks and balances had failed and the day of reckoning was here after four years of open defiance of all rules of engagement.

The institutions miraculously held. Some carrying these institutions followed through on their promise to the constitution. Despite the chief architect of the insurrection calling his detractors traitors, many were able to come out of their stupor to recognize who the real seditionist was.

Now more than a year later a congressional committee is trying to lay bare to the American public what really happened that day and the planning that went into its culmination. While to many, what happened was so obvious and open that it needed no elucidating, for the purpose of democracy and transparency all is being revealed after an arduous and contentious investigation, in an attempt to prevent such an abhorrent act from ever occurring again.

But to a vast number, this is only political theater as an election is on the horizon. They still believe the insurrectionist is the legitimate president and the current one serving is an imposter. What happened on January 6th was just a “dust up”, and the circus taking place in Washington does not deserve attention, as Fox News thinks it is just the third impeachment of a man who has already been absolved of his alleged crimes. To the party that insidiously peddles this narrative, power by any means necessary, is all that matters.

This goes to prove that this nation is now divided on the idea of democracy.

Many often wonder - especially after a peaceful transfer of power did not take place for the first time in its history - was America ever this divided?

In her 244-year history, the U.S. has endured deep divisions between its political parties. The Civil War, immigration in the late 1800s, women’s suffrage, whether to enter the first and second world wars, civil rights and anti-war protests in the 1960s, gay rights, abortion rights and numerous other issues have divided people right down to their gut and they still do.

But such deep division over the idea of democracy and what it means is relatively new. The internet and social media has had a large role to play in how America has arrived at this stage in its discourse, where its citizens cannot even seem to agree on its founding principles.

Across America today, especially in the south and mid-west, a sizable number still embrace the last president as their leader. Many candidates that he is endorsing are winning primaries and come November probably will be elected to congress on the strength of his name. While he goes around calling the January 6th hearings a “Kangaroo Court”, his power remains unchallenged in vast pockets of America. With the current economic situation getting dire by the day, his lure is even more enticing to many.

Whether the January 6th hearings will amount to anything more than just another fat document, is anyone's guess. The likelihood of the person behind the insurrection ever being indicted or standing trial for treason and sedition is a long shot. The political cost of such an action could be grave.

But the act of not doing anything when the evidence speaks for itself also puts America’s standing in the world in jeopardy. If the Insurrector-in-Chief is not held to account, then the prospects of the mob returning becomes very real and American democracy weakens beyond repair.

In his inaugural address, the last president promised he would end what he called “American Carnage” as the leader of this “great nation”. The carnage he was referring to, was the so called erosion of American values and the economic devastation brought upon by previous administrations. He also famously said as a candidate, that he could shoot anyone on fifth avenue and would not have to pay a price for it. His actions killed people at the Capitol.

True American Carnage was visited upon on January 6th.

Can America survive and heal, is anyone’s guess.



Anand Kamalakar

Anand Kamalakar is a Brooklyn based documentary film director, producer and editor. His latest film is Colonel Kalsi (colonelkalsifilm.com)