On January 20th 2021, Joe Biden will be officially inaugurated as the 46th President of the USA thus finally ending the office of one of the most divisive individuals we have seen in modern times.
The events at Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. last Wednesday rightly sent shockwaves around the globe. Not just for what actually happened (including 5 fatalities) but the fact that the outgoing President appeared to exhort to his ‘supporters’, who had assembled en masse in the capital, that they should march to the capitol building to protest at November’s election result. The scenes of utter carnage finally signalled the brutal denouement of a quite remarkable presidency. A ‘protest’ that quickly resembled mob rule, with a pitiful police presence that capitulated in minutes and with one officer actually seen posing for a selfie with a protestor. As they say in these parts, ‘you couldn’t make it up’.
It’s certainly hard to imagine this same response had the protestors not been white. Yet again, a four year term-of-office dogged by accusations of misogyny, xenophobia and islamophobia now looks to have racism added to that unenviable list. As if we weren’t aware of that anyway. Yet more awkward and uncomfortable questions for America to answer. Questions that have been raised ad nauseam on innumerable occasions. But are they uncomfortable for all Americans as they should be? Or, is there a very unsettling number who believe that the behaviour we witnessed last midweek in Washington was ‘correct’? As one opined on TV.. ‘it’s my right to behave like that if I want to…’ Wow. And there lies at least part of a big big problem. Not only for the USA but the rest of the world. More of that later.
Calls are now being made louder and louder for Trump to be impeached, perhaps even removed from office by their very own constitution. Extraordinary. What appears even more galling still is the suspicion that , as the scenes of mayhem were unravelling , sources close to him claim he was ‘apoplectic’ as it made him look bad. This truly is sociopathy and narcissism on a very grand scale. And from the leader of the globe’s principle superpower. Crikey.
Having been initially banned for 12 hours by Twitter (then reinstated) he has now had his social media accounts ‘permanently shut down’. Although, in a sickening and perverted paradox, he still has the ‘access codes’ for the country’s nuclear arsenal, which seems all the more scary now than at any time in the past 4 years.
Trump finally released a video following the Wednesday riots where he refers to the incident as a ‘heinous attack’ that left him ‘outraged by the violence, lawlessness and mayhem’. But no mention of any role he may have played. No mention of his ‘plea’ that his ‘supporters’ march on the Capitol Building. Once again, for the umpteenth time since January 2017, no responsibility taken for his actions. His hubris is breathtaking.
It would be nice if we were all, globally, able to say that he acts only for ‘himself’. On a ‘folly of his own’ if you like. But, with great regret Trump, the ‘man’, his ‘actions’, his ‘Presidency’, his ‘very being’ have defined a huge part of his own nation. Indeed one can see they are representative of an enormous number of his country’s inhabitants. 75 million Americans voted for him last November. Just take that in for a moment. Almost 10 million more people than live in the UK. Almost one quarter of the entire population of North America. Over 45% of all votes cast. Jeez.
So, whilst we find the events of three days ago totally and rightly repugnant, he has quite a band of followers. Almost ‘cult-like’, in fact. Will all this resistance just stop when we have a new President? That would seem unlikely. So (and boy will he be relishing this – not), one of Biden’s primary tasks (and a Herculean one at that – or perhaps Sisyphean..??) will be to try to appease millions of his own country’s citizens who still refuse, point blankly to accept the election result and then to unite a country that seems more divided than ever. A country that, at the best of times, feels to the rest of us like a melting pot only ever moments away from some kind of disaster.
The events of Wednesday told us much about the world we live in now. People believing that can do whatever they want, whenever and by whatever means they see fit. The liberalism with which you associate the West has made society extraordinarily bold, arrogant and ill-disciplined. Look here at the pandemic and the hordes of people refusing to adhere to preventative measures – brought in to save lives. Society needs to be tougher, across the board to teach people, amongst other things, that we do not have unfettered rights to not comply, to not uphold the law.
The wider issue is likely to be what on earth even a fraction of the 75 million Trump supporters are prepared to do next.
At a time of a global pandemic and with deaths in the USA alone approaching almost 400,000 we could do without this.