The deflowering of America's political innocenceWednesday, January 13, 2021
ON Wednesday, January 6, 2021, the “dogs of war” descended on the US Capitol building that has been described as the citadel or temple of American democracy. Netflix could not have devised a more perfect script. The writers of the House of Cards series could not have envisaged that this could happen in the nation's capital and in the nation's premier legislative chamber.
The horde of Donald Trump supporters breached the perimeter of the building by kicking aside the flimsy barricades, which could only have held back a group of Sunday school children on tour of the capital. They overpowered the equally flimsy police detail, reached the building, vandalised doors and windows to gain entrance, and, within a short space of time, were inside the hallowed halls of the House Speaker's chambers, where one of the vandals sat in the speaker's chair and put his foot on her desk. They ransacked offices of Congress persons, broke furniture, and left a mess on floors as they easily and without fear of anyone made their way through the building.
What the world witnessed in real time appalled it as it did the American people. This was no fiction; it was happening before their very eyes, and no one knew what the outcome would be. What we saw, for those who dared to look, was the deflowering of what was long assumed to be American democratic innocence. The consensus among many is that America would never be the same.
As I write, the river is still in spate as arrests of perpetrators are taking place and steps are being taken to hold the lame duck president, Donald Trump, accountable. By his incendiary rhetoric, urging the marauders to march to the building, he clearly and unambiguously fomented the crisis that unfurled.
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who will need more than a bottle of Jeyes Fluid to disinfect her office, has engaged her caucus to draft articles of impeachment against the president for the second time, which would be a first in the history of the United States. As a first, Trump's twisted, delusional thinking may lead him to think that this is something to be proud of.
By the time this article is printed Trump will have just seven days left in office. He may well have been impeached in the House of Representatives by then. Some would prefer invoking the 25th Amendment clause that gives the president's Cabinet, with the vice-president, the authority to approach the Congress with a decision to have the president removed on the basis of his incapacity to do the job. But this is fraught with problems, the chief being that Vice-President Mike Pence does not seem open to this. It is apparent that he does not possess the intestinal fortitude to move forward with this. He has proved himself to be more than a lackey to Trump. A once proud man, he has allowed Trump to emasculate him by making him into an acolyte of his mendacity. I do not believe that both men enjoyed a cordial relationship. I am sure that there are things which Trump did and said that irked the evangelical sensibilities of Pence, but he could not bring himself to oppose Trump, at least publicly, but chose instead to present himself a willing ally when deep down in his soul he knew better and felt repulsed.
At the very least, the House of Representatives must move along with the articles of impeachment, if even to send a signal to would-be perpetrators of this assault on the country's democracy that this cannot and will not be tolerated. Time is of no import here. What is at stake is the message that if you are given a position of responsibility and you swear an oath to live up to those responsibilities, you will be held accountable, especially when lives are at risk. This is about precedent and judgement, not about the time left in office.
What is to be done with Trump's acolytes in the Congress who enabled him and voted to overturn the people's will in a general election? Two senators, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, who cravenly wanted to benefit politically from the unfurling events, backed motions to overturn the people's will. They were aided and abetted by a few other senators and over 100 Republicans in the House. They all knew that Trump had exhausted all remedies before the courts and had come up empty. Even the Supreme Court ruled against any attempt to overturn the results of the election. They knew about the assault on the Capitol building and that they themselves had to seek refuge from the advancing vandals for fear of their lives. Yet, when the Congress reconvened to finish the count of the electoral college votes, a mere formality, they could not allow themselves to be ruled even by common sense, since their conscience had failed them to discontinue their charade.
Political amoeba like Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley thought that by overturning the people's will in certain states — and not others — they would inherit Trump's hard-core cadre of calcified supporters. There is no doubt that Trump sees these supporters as a package on which to stamp his brand. Having worked hard to package and patent it, he will not relinquish it easily to anyone. It is now for sale to the highest bidder and anyone who wants the brand will have to pay dearly for it. So, Cruz and Hawley will have to do more than lick Trump's boots to get it. And they are no Trump.
These people who Trump has branded will never give any Republican the loyalty that they have given Trump. In my view, Trump has emerged as the biggest mass cult leader that America has produced. Perhaps this is a first that he can also celebrate.
It is clear that last Wednesday the United States suffered one of the greatest crises it has ever faced. The legislative authority in the country. seen in the people's representatives who had met to do the people's business, could have been decapitated. And there are rumblings of other protests and potential violence to come as the inauguration of the next Administration nears.
In four short years Trump has unwittingly given the country a gigantic civics lesson in how not to govern. The Joe Biden Administration will be faced with the Herculean task of helping the country back on a path of decency, civility, and good governance.
Gordon “Butch” Stewart
This column mourns the passing of the illustrious Gordon “Butch” Stewart. His marketing genius was legendary as was his patriotic commitment to Jamaica. He has batted well, scored many centuries, and has now gone on to a well-deserved rest.
I pray God's blessing on his family at this time of their loss, and that his soul will find its rest in the God who created him.
More to follow.
Dr Raulston Nembhard is a priest, social commentator, and author of the book WEEP: Why President Donald J. Trump Does Not Deserve A Second Term . Send comments to the Jamaica Observer or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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