US Capitol attack: Donald Trump's attempts to overthrow democracy may not yet be over – Scotsman comment
“We're going to have to fight much harder… We are going to walk down to the Capitol... you will never take back our country with weakness,” Donald Trump told the baying mob of his supporters who chanted: “Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump! Fight for Trump!”
Some started walking towards the US Capitol building in Washington DC – where democratic politicians were putting their seal of approval on the election of Joe Biden as the 46th US President – before Trump had finished speaking.
He had told the crowd he would go within them, but instead scuttled back to the White House to watch how the events that he had set in motion played out on television.
The death toll was four, with a woman shot dead among a group of Trump supporters who were trying to smash their way through a locked door inside the building; three others died from “medical emergencies”.
Did the protesters go too far for Trump or not far enough? And how far is too far for a US President to go, how far can America fall in the eyes of the world, before those who would defend democracy say “enough is enough”?
Democrat Chuck Schumer, set to become Senate Majority Leader, has called on the Vice President Mike Pence to seek to use constitutional powers to remove Trump on the grounds that he is no longer fit for office, pointing out what should be obvious to all – that the attack was “an insurrection against the United States, incited by the president”. The outgoing Senate Majority Leader, Republican Mitch McConnell, was equally forthright in his condemnation of what he called a “failed insurrection”.
But one major question is whether it is actually over or if the increasingly desperate Trump plans further attempts to overthrow American democracy.
His modus operandi is to make utterly appalling statements – such as telling a far-right militia group to “stand by” or refusing to disown an endorsement by former KKK leader David Duke – and then row back in some way, such as by making spurious claims that he did not really know who the people he was talking about were. So his promise to allow an orderly transition to the Biden administration – after his incendiary speech outside the White House – cannot be trusted.
It goes without saying that democracy itself is not a party political issue. But that requires true Republicans to recognise the very real threat posed by Trump and his supporters. Even if he leaves office, his “base” will remain a powerful force in US politics. Donald Trump Jr was not wrong when he told the mob on Wednesday that “this isn't their Republican party anymore, this is Donald Trump's Republican party”. Republicans need to find a way to purge their party to ensure Trump, or another cut from the same cloth, does not rise again.
If the world’s greatest superpower and largest economy were to fall to tyranny – an almost unbelievable idea – it would have a devastating effect on the rest of the world, dramatically increasing the risk of conflict. So, over the next two weeks, much still depends on the small number of Republicans with the ability to keep Trump in check by threatening to remove him.
And it is also important for politicians in Scotland, the UK and all over the world, to see Trump for what he truly is. To her credit, Home Secretary Priti Patel, who is not without her critics, was in no doubt. “His comments directly led to the violence,” she told the BBC, adding that his failure to condemn the violence as his supporters stormed the Capitol was “completely unacceptable”.
Trump is an example of what happens when so-called populists get their hands on power. They tell lies – one of the biggest being that accurate reports by the “mainstream media” are “fake news” – they whip up hatred against political opponents and those they regard as outsiders, and, given half a chance, they will destroy democracy. We the people cannot let this happen.
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