By Rotimi Fasan
Many have described the day as one that would live in infamy but Wednesday, January 6 was one in which America’s forty-fifth president, Donald John Trump, finally proved beyond any reasonable doubt that he is totally unhinged and there was no red line beyond which he would not go.
It was on this day that he gave full vent and expression to his refusal to accept that he lost the presidential election to his rival of the Democratic Party, Joe Biden, the man he derisively labelled Sleepy Joe in his typically infantile way, won the election. Since November 3, 2020 when Biden made the 270 Electoral College vote and the election was called for him, Trump had refused to acknowledge his defeat. The loss was too personal and bruising for Trump who had always called anyone in a similar situation a loser.
For two full months Donald Trump remained a grumpy, sour loser who could just not imagine himself leaving the White House after a divisive presidency that was sustained on a cocktail of barefaced lies and absolute falsehood. It has been several generations since the world saw an autocrat or dictator with global impact come to maturity right under their nose. Not since the despicable figures of the Second World War, namely, the likes of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, lost the fight to enslave the world. But Donald Trump gave the world the opportunity to witness the making of a dictator. Right from when he was declared president in 2016, Trump had made clear he would give only short shrift to principle.
He had until his emergence as president been a closet racist whose acts of serial corruption had been known within a close circle of family, friends and business associates. He rose on the crest of the backlash against the emergence of the first Black president in America, Barack Obama. Donald Trump had, indeed, launched his political career on the back of his attempts to delegitimise the presidency of Obama who he mischievously claimed had not been born on American soil.
Even after this lie was exposed, the White Establishment was willing to humour Trump as he raised a political career on fraud. He rolled back just about anything that Barack Obama did while in office. His goal was clearly to wipe off anything that could remind the world America had a Black president in the recent past.
He extended his attack to African Americans and other minority groups in America and finally the rest of the world. Trump’s self-serving, egotistic battles were being fought in the name of White America and making America first in everything. Being an utterly shameless man, he could say for the American Establishment what many of them were too shy to admit to. He was not pretentious about his hatred and dislike of vulnerable Americans especially blacks. He was enabled in his acts of serial violations by a Republican Party that gradually morphed from what could be called a centre-right party into a far-right one that could now be justifiably called the Retrumplican as opposed to Republican Party, to borrow the words of CNN’s Chris Cuomo.
As Trump gradually breached every norm of civilised conduct, first visiting his lack of decency on minority groups in America and eventually Muslims around the world, he was enabled by the cheering members of the Republican Party and others too used to unearned privileges that have put the white people of America over their black, brown and yellow counterparts to consider giving them up. Let’s be clear about it: Donald Trump was enabled and actively egged on by the same people who are now worried and scared by the danger he poses not just to the rest of the world but particularly America even in the last few days of his better forgotten presidency. He may not yet be a certified inmate of asylum but that Donald Trump is unstable is not a matter of debate any longer.
He is too self-obsessed to see anything beyond his own interest. He is prepared to bring the world to its knees in order to have his way. Which was why he would not accept that a free and fair contest, one that has been adjudged by those who should know as the most secure in the history of the country, was somehow rigged against him. He refused to concede and launched with the help of his Republican Party enablers dozens of court challenges to the result of the election and lost all but one or two of them, even in courts presided over by judges appointed by him. In the end, he began moves to mobilise his supporters to thwart the democratic transition of power, urging them to be strong and to fight hard to reclaim America from those he falsely claimed had stolen the election he lost. He warned darkly of what would happen on January 6 even as the security agencies stood by watching and took no action.
The week in which Congress was to ratify the outcome of the electoral college votes would prove momentous. Trump started it by trying to persuade the Secretary of State in Georgia, Brad Raffensperger, to help him look for over 11,000 votes, effectively demanding the election be rigged after the results had been known weeks before and after at least one recount at his urging. Things moved fast three days later when Congress in a joint session convened to certify the November votes. Mike Pence who as Vice President is President of the Senate was put under pressure to overturn the votes. While working on Pence, Trump simultaneously worked on his supporters who in response to his call had converged from all parts of the country in Washington and were just a few hundred metres away from the Capitol. Having worked them into a frenzy, Trump unleashed them on members of Congress.
Thus, was the sanctity of American democracy stained and its integrity sullied as the president’s stalwarts, veritable thugs and terrorists, stormed the Capitol, destroying and stealing the property and equipment of the legislators who out of fear for their lives had to bunk down in the basement of the parliament. Donald Trump, his children, and associates then cowardly retreated to the safety of the White House, to watch on television the effect of the conflagration he had set off.
There were a standoff and weapons were pulled, five lives were lost and pipe bombs were imported into the inner sanctum of America’s democracy- all transmitted on live television. America has since been reeling from the shock. But it is a measure of the enduring power of her democratic institutions that America has since risen to its feet as Donald Trump steps into the outer cold.