I know a tribe out there who still maintain that the attempted coup on the Capitol on January 6 was not pre-meditated; that it was merely a case of protest gone awry. That Donald Trump, the wily showman couldn’t have imagined that the insidious forces which he unleashed in the aftermath of the United States’ November elections would end up in undermining the very institution in the world’s greatest democracy.
I guess those in the tribe still imagine that those serial attempted criminal subversion of the election were simply fake news. Add to it the curious mathematics in which his 75 million supporters made him WIN BIG leaving his opponent Joe Biden with 81milliin votes a LOSER! Moreover, that the Electoral College which he also lost by 232 to Biden’s 306 actually counted for nothing – at least in the eyes of the Trump mob. And then the tales by a certain Brad Raffensperger, Georgia’s secretary of state, in which Trump was alleged to have implored him with veiled threats and lies to change the outcome of the election; that was supposed to have been sexed up. Never mind also: those frantic calls – and if you like to add the shuttle from court to court -to torpedo the will of the voter – were part of the supposed democratic process.
Welcome to America’s exceptionalism – the theory that the United States is inherently different from other nations. Or better still superior to other nations or having a unique mission to transform the world.
For me, it is a good thing that the January 6 infamy happened. Had things turned otherwise, we’d probably still be under the illusions of the so-called greatest democracy on earth being the exemplar of its finest tenets. Now with five dead and probably scores of heads broken not to talk of the damage and desecration of its sacred symbol, the iconic Capitol building – victims of a riot incited by a law and order President Trump, there might just be one or two things still left from that old manual of democracy a la Uncle Sam!
How much of things have turned asunder in God’s Own Country remains a matter of debate. But then, if the world was caught in any surprise, it was because it failed to pay attention to the character-portrait so apt, of the man at the centre of the storm by no less a man than the late conservative columnist, the late Charles Krauthammer years back: “This is beyond narcissism. I used to think Trump was an 11-year-old, an undeveloped schoolyard bully. I was off by about 10 years. His needs are more primitive, an infantile hunger for approval and praise, a craving that can never be satisfied. He lives in a cocoon of solipsism where the world outside himself has value – indeed exists – only insofar as it sustains and inflates him … (He) is dangerously out of the mainstream and temperamentally unfit to command the nation.”
Of course, he had more to say – like for instance when the news surfaced that his campaign had sought to obtain dirt from the Russians on his 2016 opponent, Hillary Clinton. He had written inter alia: “Once you’ve said ‘I’m in,’ it makes no difference that the meeting was a bust, that the intermediary brought no such goods. What matters is what Donald Jr. thought going into the meeting, as well as Jared Kushner and then-campaign manager Paul Manafort, who were forwarded the correspondence, invited to the meeting, and attended … (The) three top Trump campaign officials were ready to play …It’s rather pathetic to hear Trump apologists protesting that it’s no big deal … It’s one thing to be open to opposition research dug up in Indiana. But not dirt from Russia, a hostile foreign power that has repeatedly invaded its neighbours”.
Coincidentally, such sinister plots, familiar as the skin to him, would consume his administration when he turned to Ukraine for dirt on his current nemesis, Joe Biden and his son Hunter. With Nancy Pelosi’s House having none of it – he was summarily impeached by the Democratic Party-led Congress.
Like the prophet, Krauthammer had surmised of the Trump odyssey: “Trump” he said “is a systemic stress test” for America even as he had noted that, “the institutions of both political and civil society are holding up well.” Hence his abiding faith that “the sinews of our democracy” will thwart “the careening recklessness of this presidency.”
That summation, though somewhat prescient, unfortunately fell short of explaining, not just the Trump phenomenon but his mythical, cult-like following – the throng once described by Hilary Clinton as “deplorables”. For a country that prides itself as the most ‘civilised’ in the world, that some 75 million odd American citizens – more than a fifth of the population actually fell to Trump’s twitterdom of lies and wild conspiracy theories, is itself indicative of pathology far deeper that the episodic rants by their culprit in chief.
Thanks to January 6 storming of the Capitol, the ugly side of America’s public life, long in denial, has now been fully revealed. More, the fabric of a nation that claims to be God’s Own has been sundered by those to whom the right to lord over others has come to equate divine right.
Of course, Trump didn’t happen by chance any more than he would suddenly disappear from public view after January 20. Expect the impeachment axe, currently hanging over Trump to drive the lunatic fringe among the hordes of his supporters over the edge, as America prepares for the worst in the coming weeks.
Understandably, there are those Americans who would rather halt what has become an inevitable curve in humanity’s collective march for progress. And to imagine, as the eminent Tatalo Alamu puts it, that the “struggle has taken up most of the last three centuries and has witnessed a momentous civil war, horrific massacres of native Americans, emancipation of African-Americans from slavery, race riots, civil rights campaigns, protest marches for the rights of all American to vote and be voted for, affirmative action in colleges, the rise of extreme and murderous right-wing clans and a countervailing upsurge in a radical Black prelacy and the election of an American president of African extraction”.
Now, short of an outright civil war, those gains – although too little and somewhat incremental – would appear to have come to stay hence the current rage across the vast lands of America. For America, it might yet be morning on creation day.
Finally, a word for Trump’s religious enablers – the Evangelicals and their local protestant minions. Trump might be their Cyrus the Great, the famed annointed king of Persia, prompted by God to decree that the Temple in Jerusalem be rebuilt. He may have pandered to their religious fancies; but to put him in the pedestal of that remarkable monarch under whom the Babylonian captivity ended is to abuse the import of history. By now, they ought to be humbled by the knowledge that God’s ways are not necessarily theirs just as their claims to exclusivity in the divine order, are more often than not, without the so-called ecclesiastical basis.