"In the US, demonization and blame throwing dominate."
To say that America was shaken to the core, as our paper’s headline bannered last Friday, is a classic understatement. That disastrous and utterly condemnable siege on Capitol Hill by a group of Trump supporters which left four people dead and scores wounded has all but shattered America’s image as the shining city on a hill, as US President Ronald Reagan described it at the end of the Cold War. The beacon of democracy, the enlightened leader of the “Free World,” as it has come to be known, is on its way to the abyss.
No doubt that Wednesday’s assault has engendered a continuing chorus of world leaders expressing concern over the fate of American democracy and, of course, the country’s standing in the community of nations. Given the highly toxic and decidedly divided environment now engulfing the entire country it will take time, if ever, for the incoming Biden administration to rein in the forces now threatening to unhinge the entire country and bring it to the brink.
While most leaders on both sides of the divide have called for restraint and healing, it is clear that the same will not happen anytime soon. Instead, demonization and blame throwing dominate. For some reason, no less than House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has added fuel to the fire by heaping all blame on President Trump, calling him unhinged and undeserving of staying in office any minute longer. She has even asked Vice President Pence to call out President Trump to resign or else face being booted using the US Constitution’s 25th amendment declaring him as “unfit to serve.”
Adding salt to the wounds, she even called on the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff cautioning him to prevent Trump from having his fingers on the highly secure nuclear button. Worse, despite pleas for calm from more sober headed leaders of her own party, she has gone ahead with the House cavalry pushing for the passage of Trump’s second impeachment just a few days before he officially gets out of the White House.
To be fair, there is every reason to bring Trump to answer for his questionable behavior and incendiary tweets after his moves to overturn the results of the polls went unheeded. But after a good number of Republican legislators have come forward to precisely object to the results of the election in the key states which he had earlier targeted as rigged and fraudulent, Trump should have stepped back, calmed down and let Congress do its job. Instead, he continued to whine and called for his followers to take his case directly to Congress, a call which fellow Republican and Florida Senator Marco Rubio said may
have led for some Trump supporters to “get caught up in the moment.”
Even as he condemned the violence, Rubio noted that “ninety nine percent of the people that went to Washington DC to protest and have their voices heard did not barge into the Capitol.. but 1 percent of thousands of people is still a lot of people..some of whom unfortunately were adherents to a conspiracy theory and others got caught up in the moment….the result was a national embarrassment.”
While he himself did not object to the results he noted that the senators who filed it were making it plain that the same should be reviewed and audited if only to show that there was a way to channel and resolve President Trump’s challenges and the people’s grievances about the conduct of the elections peaceably short of taking the law in their own hands.
Those who stood up to challenge the results made it clear from the start that they were doing so precisely to give vent to the people’s anger over the machinations, real or imagined, which attended the conduct of the elections in the battleground states. It was a way, as Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley correctly noted, to bring to the fore and straighten the attendant election related issues identified by the Trump campaign in the course of the challenges they brought before the courts and the states ’electoral institutions.
As Rubio advised, overturning the results would just have been a bonus, if ever. “It was,”
he noted, “the practice of states going to court to friendly judges, changing the laws so they can get an advantage for Democrats and circumventing the legislature to inject new rules that needed to be questioned and resolved.” That such issues and concerns by a sitting President could not even be resolved with some amount of transparency and certainty Trump channelled to this disastrous end. He had succeeded in channelling this sense of hopelessness, of inability to redress grievances of being left out on his way to the White House in the 2016 elections.
Coming in as an outsider, he and his supporters charged the Washington Establishment with that “Draining the Swamp” call which successfully propelled him to the presidency. Sadly, that same incendiary charge has now put him and his legacy to near ruin. But that is another story.
What is clear is that the same sense of being left out by an unfeeling Establishment remains across the board. As one observer of the scene noted, you cannot simply dismiss the angst and concerns of the 75 million who voted for Trump’s “America First” program that, for all intents and purposes, has become increasingly blurred and out of reach. It is indeed ironic that two of the four people who died last Wednesday were Trump supporters. Ashit Babbitt, the 14 year military veteran, served in America’s “endless wars” as did Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick who succumbed to wounds suffered during the assault.
Babbitt’s younger brother said his sister was a small business owner herself and was struggling to keep afloat through this pandemic. But she labored on hoping that the “America First” plan if properly handled will somehow bring relief to people like her. He noted between sobs, “If you feel like you gave the majority of your life to your country and you are not being listened to that is a hard pill to swallow.” Sicknick himself harbored the same feelings as he reportedly got upset over the lack of support given to veterans.
In fact, a post situation report noted that Sicknick and his colleagues in the Capitol Police were caught by surprise by the assault as most of the marchers were ordinary citizens like them – military veterans, blue collar workers, fire fighters and state legislators – who were all appalled by the hypocrisy and seeming dismissive attitude to their plight of those they considered leaders.
All of these, of course, are now water under the bridge. But there is a lesson to be learned here. In America and elsewhere. Ignore the people’s angst and concerns and you will reap the whirlwind. A leader like President Duterte has taken this to heart so much so that despite all the challenges and missteps along the way he remains the most trusted among all of our officials going into the last 18 months of his six year term..
In the case of the United States the question is: will incoming President Biden and the Democratic Party have the good sense to turn the gains they have achieved after the
2020 elections and, yes, after that disastrous Capitol siege into a golden opportunity to be gracious in victory, get the country back on its feet and lead the way, as the “Shining City on a Hill” to a more peaceful, vibrant and compassionate world. Abangan.