“The most shocking, most tragic, least surprising thing I’ve ever seen”. This statement by Stephen Colbert might be the best way to describe the very tragic day of 6th January 2021 for the United States of America and its citizens. What was to be a peaceful day fulfilling the constitutional norms of counting electoral votes to determine the next President turned into a full-blown white supremacist riot fuelled by the incumbent. As Donald Trump Jr. was quoted saying “ This isn’t their Republican Party anymore, this is Donald Trump’s Republican Party”- an ironic turn of phrase for someone who is not a member of the party himself. He and Eric Trump were also heard threatening that they would come for and fight to unseat those who would not aid their father in his pursuit to overturn the election. This raises the question, who gave them the power to threaten members of a national party to do their bidding? Maybe the only good thing to come out of this is the knowledge that there are still members of the Republican Party who have the spine and courage to stand for the law, order and righteousness.
The showcase of Confederate flags, nooses and Auschwitz hoodies has alerted people to the toxicity that still exists in the nation and its most prominent proponents: namely Donald Trump, his family and Senators such as Josh Hawley and Ted Cruz. A prominent white supremacist is a man who identifies himself as Q Shaman, a wide believer of the QAnon conspiracy theory which states that Trump is a godsend who will jail Satanist pedophiles. He has since been arrested, though the striking images of him adorned with tattoos, face-paint and horns will live long in the memory.
The riot that led to the death of 5 people and 68 arrests, including the person who stormed Nancy Pelosi’s office, is now known to be a domestic terrorist attack and is feared in some circles to be the pre-amble to a Civil War. This attack is also exposing the hypocrisy and inconsistency in national responses to unrest. Black Lives Matter, a peaceful movement demanding the end of racial bias and police accountability, faced the National Guard armed with tear gas, water pipes and guns last summer. Those same defences were conspicuously absent this time around, and for the first time in American history, the Confederate flag was able to reach the capitol building. Vice President Mike Pence was the one to eventually call in the National Guard when faced with the President’s reticence to stop his own supporters, despite the fact that according to the US constitution, the head of state leads the guard. It is such an attitude which has finally allowed Republican Party members and global leaders to criticise Trump’s stubbornness, his affinity for violence, and lack of responsibility.
There is a rising pressure on Pence from the Democrat leaders and indeed certain Republicans to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove the President from office. If, as is likely, the Cabinet prove hesitant to follow through with this unprecedented action, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is already moving forward with Impeachment proceedings for the second time. If convicted, this would not only end Trump’s term before the 20th January, but would also result in the loss of his pension, secret service security detail, his one million dollar travel allowance, and most notably, the opportunity to run for president again in 2024. However, what still remains in question is the extent to which there will still remain a stain of Trumpism and its subscribers’ propensity of violence, intolerance and white supremacy.
This attack has highlighted the fragility of the US democracy, something which will hopefully be remedied under the leadership of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. As far as the Trump family goes, it will be interesting to see where and how they hide from the public and morally sound politicians for their crimes and disruption of law and order after January 20th’s inauguration ceremony.
Image: Ruperto Miller on Flickr