By Ameen Izzadeen
In the history of the United States’ democracy, the darkest day, though unprecedented, was not unexpected. January 6, 2021 has gone down in the annals of US politics as the day on which the worst assault on democracy took place — and the biggest culprit is the President himself who aided and abetted what was described by President-elect Joe Biden as an insurrection bordering on sedition.
The assault on Capitol Hill was shocking, if not appalling. Congress which acts as a check against the excesses of the executive president came under siege by thousands of Trump supporters who ransacked the building, forcing the lawmakers to take cover in what was seen as the climax episode of the preposterous presidency of Donald Trump.
What happened on January 6 was a coup d’état of sorts to subvert democracy. Just as the 9/11 terrorists brought down the Twin Towers, Trump’s terrorists – some of them armed — tried to bring down the edifice of democracy so that the demagogue could continue as president for four more years.
This may not be Trump’s last card. He has 12 more days in office to abuse his power. The more Trump stays in office as president, the more danger he poses to democracy. Twitter, his favorite social media platform, immediately blocked him.
Just as he failed to condemn the violence perpetrated by white supremacists against peaceful demonstrators in Charlottesville in 2017, Trump in his initial reaction chose not to condemn Wednesday’s storming of Capitol Hill by his supporters. In a video message he was seen heaping his love on them and telling them they are special, though he later issued a statement agreeing to an orderly transition of power on January 20
As the siege of Capitol Hill continued, there were calls to remove Trump immediately. There had been enough and more reasons to get rid of him during his presidency. But Republican lawmakers by their sycophancy allowed Trump to tear apart the country’s democratic and social fabric. They refused to support the impeachment motion or pay heed to top psychiatrists’ opinions about Trump’s mental unsuitability to be the president or about his narcissistic personal disorder. His incompetence was seen in the way he handled the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 361,000 Americans have died due to the pandemic and more than 21.4 million have been afflicted while he dismisses scientific advice on facemasks, physical distancing, and other health guidelines.
As this column was being written yesterday, the PBS and BBC reported that in what appears to be the delayed dawn of wisdom, the members of the Trump Cabinet were mulling over the possibility of invoking the 25th amendment to remove the President on the basis he is unfit to command.
This should have happened long time ago. They should not have waited till Trump’s Proud Boys and Girls heeded his ‘Stand by’ command to storm the Capitol building while the lawmakers had gathered in a joint session to certify the electoral college vote count – a formal procedure which could have been completed in an hour or so if there had been no objections.
Questions are being raised as to the unpreparedness of the police as they knew well in advance that Trump supporters were converging on the capital. On Tuesday, Washington’s mayor urged the federal government to deploy the National Guard. But it did not happen.
As the Trumpists justified yesterday’s action as a revolution similar to the storming of the Bastille during the French Revolution, the way the highly outnumbered police retreated was unbelievable, given their trigger-happy action against Black Lives Matter demonstrators. Even when the troublemakers were leaving the Congress building after their violent behaviour which led to the deaths of four people, the police made little or no effort to arrest them. Later some 50 people were arrested for violating the curfew.
The police passivity was only a footnote in the grand scheme of Trump’s effort to subvert the will of the American people who by their verdict on November 3 told the President “enough is enough, you should go.”
Trump was the architect of Wednesday’s ugly scenes, because even before the November 3rd election was held, he fed conspiracy theories to his supporters saying the election was to be rigged, with rightwing media groups parroting him. Though, unsubstantiated, these claims were given legitimacy by most Republican leaders who refused to endorse Biden’s victory.
The Republican leadership fell in line with Trump though he lacked leadership traits such as wisdom, temperance, and high moral values. There is something seriously not right within the party founded on democratic principles.
Under Trump, the party veered away from morally upright politics. In the aftermath of Wednesday’s ugly scenes in Capitol Hill, it was a welcome relief to see US Vice President Mike Pence and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell waxing eloquent about democratic values and condemning Trump supporters’ violent behaviour. But their remarks were too little too late. They too should be held responsible for being complicit in Trump’s anti-democratic actions. McConnell, for instance, until recently refused to acknowledge Biden’s victory, thus giving tacit approval to Trump’s baseless allegations that the election was rigged.
The US democracy’s sacred precincts would not have been desecrated by the alt-right hooligans if the Republican leadership had stood against Trump and had the courage to correct him when he went astray. Many in the Republican Party probably believes that they could politically survive only if they follow Trump and woo the white supremacists, even if it meant ditching inclusive democracy. After all, more than 70 million people voted for Trump in the nail-biter November election despite his disdain for democratic traditions and the dignity associated with the office of the president.
This was probably why a majority of the Republican politicians shamelessly went along with Trump’s immoral political stunts and whitewashed his wrongdoings. Republican Senator Ted Cruz, during the 2016 Republican party’s primaries, labelled Trump as immoral and unsuited for presidency, but he became one of the staunchest defenders of Trump’s presidential misdeeds.
Even after Wednesday’s fascist attempt to subvert democracy, hundreds of Republican lawmakers had the temerity to raise objections during Congress’ certification of the electoral college vote count. Although a significant number of Republican lawmakers voted with the Democrats to reject the objections, it is still distasteful to see Republican representatives raising objections and becoming part of Trump’s plan to delay the peaceful transfer of power.
Despite the skullduggery and filibustering, Biden was endorsed by Congress yesterday. It had a message for Trump’s pack of fools: democracy in the US is still strong enough to withstand the fascists’ thuggery despite the battering it suffered during the four years of Trump presidency.
By defeating Trump, Biden saved the soul of America. But who will save the soul of the Republican Party after it became responsible for the darkest chapter in US democratic history?
http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/After-Trump-supporters-fascist-thuggery-whither-the-Republican-Party/172-203333(This article first appeared in the Daily Mirror, Sri Lanka)