Thursday, July 18, 2024

When Republican Senators were too terrified to hold extremist Trump accountable

When the radicalised supporters of Donald Trump stormed the seat of US government on 6th January 2020 during the certification of the Electoral College outcomes, it neither shocked nor surprised me. And this because Trump has particularly demonstrated during his presidency that he was able and prepared to prime his supporters to revolt in his favour and for his own personal good. During his debate with his successor Joe Biden, he refused with contempt and palpable arrogance to denounce a radicalised group called The Proud Boys. On many occasions, he stated that the 3rd November 2020 election will be rigged even before it began. Through his uncouth public and private speeches coupled with sheer disposition of belligerence, he instilled fear and terror on everyone who crossed his path be it his own party members or public officials. Consequently, only a few mustered the courage and conviction to tell him off obviously at a huge cost to public and political offices.

The last straw which defined Trump’s exit from the White House should be the events which preceded the assault on the Capitol and the actual assault. Trump addressed his radicalised and armed supporters just before the combined session of the House of Representatives and the Senate. At this meeting, he primed his supporters with utmost conviction and resolve to go and disturb the certification process because the election, according to him, was rigged and stolen. Yet, the very same electoral process for his election in 2016 including the last stage of certification of the Electoral College votes applied to him and never questioned it. Trump the US media reports, approached both State and the Supreme Courts to petition them for his alleged electoral irregularities as he is entitled to. It is said he lodged about 60 petitions which were rejected and dismissed by the courts except for a few which could not substantially overturn the election results. Having exhausted all legal avenues to challenge election results without success and in true Trump fashion, he decided to up the ante fourteen days before his presidency came to a close with the resultant Biden inauguration.  

The mayhem at the Capitol is well documented and need no further description nor explanation because the world saw it in real time. What must be emphasised though is that had Trump not called the said meeting, the mayhem wouldn’t have taken place. As a consequence therefore, the mayhem should fall primarily on Trump in terms of being held accountable. It is suggested that the meeting and the assault were meticulously planned by the extremists with the concurrence of Trump long before 6th January 2021. What happened on the day makes a compelling case of accountability on his part and to which I am attracted. By any measure, Trump’s conduct and belligerence has put a permanent stain on the US democratic credentials which will be permanently recorded in the annals of history. All fair-minded individuals including some Republicans who mustered courage and conviction, felt that he must be held to account for the mayhem through an impeachment process as provided for in the US Constitution. Those of his party who could not publicly muster the said courage and conviction, are said to have accepted in hushed tones that Trump bore all the responsibility which required some sanction. The desired sanction from what is in the US media space would in the circumstances that Trump had already left office at the time of impeachment trial, be to bar him permanently from holding any federal and political offices.

With fear and terror instilled by Trump particularly on the faint-hearted Republicans, it was a foregone conclusion that some of the Republican Senators would be so terrified to cross his path as demonstrated by some failure among these Senators to vote for a guilty verdict in the Senate trial. While the Minority leader Senator Mitch McConnell was on the floor making his closing remarks, I could not believe my ears on his downright hypocrisy when on one hand he voted against a guilty verdict while on the other, he laid the blame for the mayhem exclusively on Trump. McConnell’s logic or reasoning is anything but a case of when accountability and political expediency are conveniently crafted not to have a common point of converge. Various US analysts and commentators are saying the failure by Trump party Senators are so terrified by him for their own political careers and survivals. Put differently, the party comes first than anything else. Trump’s radicalised supporters appear to be unleashing a vicious reign of terror on those Republicans in particular and Americans in general who do not agree with him on any issue. Some of the Republicans and their family members have reportedly and unfortunately, received sustained death threats or some harm of sorts from these supporters wherein Trump’s self-preservation is uppermost.

People in political leadership positions like Trump are emboldened by people who are allergic to holding them accountable. In neighbouring South Africa and in the ruling African National Congress, the supporters of Jacob Zuma are priming him not to appear at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture over some spurious arguments notwithstanding the instruction of the Constitutional Court for him to do so. The very people who are negatively advising Zuma together with himself say they are Constitutionalists meaning that they believe in the doctrine of the Rule of Law amongst others. Laughable indeed! Just like McConnell, they speak in forked tongue. It is fair to say Trump and Zuma are characters who display the attitude that it is either their way or the highway when it comes to accountability.

The decision of most of the Republican Senators not to hold Trump personally accountable for the mayhem on the US Capitol on 6th January 2021 is confirmation to the aggressively developing phenomenon throughout other jurisdictions that people who are duty-bound to so hold them accountable are terrified to do so. And these leaders revel under these kind of circumstances and protection. This phenomenon has arguably been in existence but like I say, it is aggressively developing given the frequency. Political leaders like Trump and those who support them are slowly but surely becoming serious threat to the overall democracy project throughout the globe. This threat inevitably, manifests into potential political and socio-economic instabilities one can think of whose consequences are too ghastly to contemplate. I am prepared to be persuaded otherwise as always.

Covid-19 virus is still our immediate threat. Let us all comply with the health protocols of regularly washing or sanitising our hands, maintaining social distance from each other wherever we are and, religiously and properly wear our masks. It is our civic duty to do so.

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