Siege on the Capitol!

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Siege on the Capitol!

PAUL GOLDING

Sunday, January 10, 2021

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I have had several surreal moments in my recent life. Among them are the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the USA, the first inauguration of Barack Obama as US president in 2009, the Christopher “Dudus” Coke extradition saga in 2010, the declaration of the novel coronavirus as a pandemic and subsequent lockdown in March 2020, and the January 6, 2021 siege on the United States Capitol building by supporters of outgoing President Donald Trump — reminiscent of the 2010 security forces operation into Tivoli Gardens.

Fox News: “This doesn't happen here; this happens in other countries, and we report on it. This is a sad day. I love my country and never expected this to happen in a thousand years.”

Jake Tapper on CNN: “I feel like I am reporting from a Third World capital like Bogota.”

In 2016, Senator Ted Cruz said: “I will tell you what I think about Trump; he is a pathological liar and a coward.” That was Cruz's honest, unvarnished opinion of Trump. However, political ambition led to jaundiced eyes and Cruz subsequently embraced Trump with an eye on his 74 million supporters. Cruz, in his support of Trump's outlandish claim that he was robbed of the election, said in the joint session of Congress: “Recent polling shows that 39 per cent of Americans believe the election that just occurred, quote 'was rigged'.” He continued, “Even if you do not share this conviction, it is the responsibility, I believe, of this Office to acknowledged that it is a profound threat to this country and to the legitimacy of any Administration that will come in the future.”

Based on what transpired on January 6, senators Cruz and Josh Hawley should consider their 2024 presidential ambitions dead. This, however, may not be the case, as they are both gambling on inheriting and becoming the new “area leader” for the 74-million garrison.

But what happens when you have a narcissistic leader, president, CEO? Psychoanalysts speak of narcissistic personality types. The concept of narcissism comes from an ancient Greek myth about Narcissus, a son of a God, who fell in love with his own reflection in the water. Over the last 20 years the business discipline has learnt a lot about narcissist leaders. At the turn of this century there was a love affair with narcissistic leaders. They were larger than life, superstar leaders who were confident, bold, actively self-promoted, and had grandiose ideas. Some of these leaders were/are as good as their promises, but too often — using a title from a Stanford Business School article — “they destroy from within”. The article continues, “True narcissists are self-serving and lack integrity. They believe they're superior and thus not subject to the same rules and norms. Studies show they are more likely to act dishonestly to achieve their ends. They know they're lying, and it doesn't bother them. They don't feel shame. They are also often reckless in the pursuit of glory — sometimes successfully, but often with dire consequences.”

Other research shows that narcissistic leaders reward flattery, personal loyalty, and servitude, but treat with contempt and hostility those who have different views. They externalise all blame while accepting credit for others' successes, and they expect perfection. Narcissists also have a great ability to attract and inspire followers.

The description given above of a narcissistic leader is personified and operationalised in the United States President Donald Trump. Examples of Trump's congruence to these characteristics abound. Privately, politicians and governments know that he is a narcissist, but they accommodated it for political and economic reasons. When President Trump was invited to England they showered him with pomp and ceremony, so did President Emmanuel Macron of France and the leaders of Saudi Arabia. There should be no surprise in Trump's attempt to hold on to power, especially as there is the possibility of prosecution after he leaves office.

What this insurrection and attempted coup also demonstrates that “puss and dawg don't have the same luck”. An unarmed black man or woman poses more of a threat to democracy in the United States than white men with assault rifles. Donald Trump was planning a revolution — as one of his supporters described it. This was all planned online and there were no national guards, additional police, or the military called in. For black demonstrators all the necessary precautions would have been made beforehand, and we would not have had the gall to storm the building. In fact, when black folks demonstrate, law and order need to be maintained.

At the “Save America” rally before the attempted coup, Rudy Giuliani incited the crowd, calling for “trial by combat” to settle the election, while Donald Trump Jr warned Republicans who decided to certify Joe Biden's presidential victory that, “We will be coming for you.” Trump then called for his supporters to march on the Capitol.

Had Trump been a black man, or even a black president like Barack Obama, he would have been arrested along with his other coup plotters, and so would those who aided and abetted. In fact, the protesters would have been shot. There would be no talk of the 25th Amendment. Then again, if Trump were black, he wouldn't have been elected president in the first place; both black and white people would have agreed that he was too moronic and crass to be president.

The US Constitution assumes that an elected president will be a person of integrity. Trump has changed that assumption, and so additional laws will be needed to make it less difficult to unseat a sitting president. In my non-legal opinion, a blatant attempt to subvert a democratic election must rise to the level of high crimes.

With Trump at the helm, the Republican Party is in a quandary. Does the establishment want to identify with Trump? But, do they really have a choice with 40 per cent of the electorate loyal to him? Will his popularity wane after the attempted coup? At the international level, what will be the impact of Trump's tour of duty?

Research has shown that when narcissistic leaders change their organisations or country, those changes outlast them. Trump has certainly changed the US. In fact, some will argue that he has made it weaker. While the USA is struggling under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic and death (mostly Government-inflicted), its main geopolitical rival, China, has recovered and the real economy has started to hum again. A recent report from the UK-based Centre for Economic and Business Research indicates that China will overtake the US to become the world's largest economy by 2028, five years earlier than previously forecast.

Under Trump, the USA has lost a lot of its gravitas. It can no longer be expected to enter in global agreements without unilaterally pulling out, as in the Paris Accord or in the Iran agreement. The US is no longer considered the citadel of democracy as, on January 6, 2021, a failed coup attempt, a siege of the Capitol by no less a person than the incumbent but outgoing president rendered them a banana republic.

In 1861 the southern States refused to accept the outcome of the election, as Trump is currently doing, and this led to the American Civil War. Will January 6, 2021 signal the deepening of the divide in US domestic politics along tribal lines, or will it unite the country? I have serious doubts about the latter.

The world is changing, and approximately 40 per cent of the USA is unable to respond to these changes and, consequently, have resorted to conspiracy theories. Will the instigators of the insurgency face any consequences? History tells us no. The instigators of the 1861 Civil War have had statues built in their honour, and their names adorn military bases. Minions will be arrested and charged for their role in the 2021 siege of the Capitol building, but none from the political hierarchy.

Great nations have risen and fallen in the past. Is the USA being destroyed from within?


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