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Mr Donald Trump's fatal error

Sunday, January 10, 2021

The fallout from the insurrection on Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, continues apace, and it will be sometime before the full extent of Wednesday's assault on the United States seat of power is known.

For sure, even America's staunchest allies are in shock over the scenes of rioting as hundreds of President Donald Trump's supporters stormed the Congress on Wednesday, overwhelming police, vandalising offices of lawmakers and leaving at least five people dead, at last count.

Indeed, US adversaries, not unexpectedly, were quick to ridicule American democracy, gloating over the mayhem and in it seeking justification for their own record of abusing democracy. This, of course, is a false equivalency.

Those who still wish to see America thrive, as Jamaicans generally do, feel a great sense of disappointment and disbelief, because American democracy has always been a buffer against those who would enchain and thumb their noses at human rights.

This attack on the capital appears to stem from a fatal error by Mr Trump. His insistence that the presidential elections were fraudulent and stolen from him, despite not providing an iota of evidence, was bound to end up this way.

The world is not accustomed to seeing a US president refusing to concede for over two months since the elections. Mr Trump was aided and abetted by a majority of Republican members in the House of Representatives and some senators.

Together, with the support of many white evangelical leaders —who seem to put politics over piety — they managed to convince millions of Americans that the elections were not fair and that there had been a conspiracy to rob Mr Trump of a second term.

Over 60 court cases, including at the United States Supreme Court; assurances by State agencies; the very supportive Attorney General William Barr; the Federal Bureau of Investigation and others failed to find any evidence of the allegations, after their own independent investigations.

It is unclear where Mr Trump was going with his continued attempt to overturn the elections, even after the votes were certified by the Electoral College and Mr Joe Biden declared the president-elect.

Some people were willing to be patient while the legal processes were being exhausted. Unfortunately, Mr Trump and his enablers then began to seek to overturn the results and to stir up anger in their supporters, many of whom are white supremacists.

What therefore happened on Wednesday was the culmination of all those misguided efforts at disenfranchising 81 million voters and damaging the American brand. This does not sit well with even best friends.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which has kept enemies of the West at bay, and many leaders in Europe expressed bewilderment at the shocking events. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson blamed Mr Trump for inciting the riots.

“The president consistently has cast doubt on the outcome of a free and fair election. I believe that that was completely wrong,” said Mr Johnson, one of his closest allies.

Belatedly, Mr Trump for the first time acknowledged that a new Administration will be sworn in on January 20, 2021, announcing later that he would not be attending the inauguration ceremony.

America has entered into uncharted waters. They need our prayers.