NB – As you might have noticed from the cover image, I was given some new design software for Christmas. I will be trialling it in this post.
Apologies in advance.
Well, folks. We made it. We got to 2021.
We dragged our way through what was certainly the strangest year of my lifetime, and probably most other people’s, too. And, while the coronavirus has mutated, is running rampant, and we find ourselves in lockdown once again, we can at least take comfort from the fact that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
The vaccines, those glorious little vials of diluted evil, are our ticket out of this nightmare. And we Brits are the lucky ones – we have the most easily-produced and easily-distributed vaccine being made on our very own shores. While we’re not out of the woods yet, the end is in sight.
And so, as we sat with our families, significant others, or just on our own as the clock struck midnight last week, we had reasons to be cheerful, at long last.
2021 might, we thought, just might be the year where we can get everything back to normal, at long last.
What’s that? Trump’s incited a riot and his supporters have broken through police barriers to storm the Capitol building? Four people are dead? Trump’s been blocked on Twitter and Facebook and has been described as being, “Out of his mind?”
Wait, does he still have access to the nuclear codes?! Oh Christ. I thought a US Civil War was on the 2020 apocalypse bingo card, not 2021…
For God’s sake. Here we go again.
Yesterday already had huge potential for unrest. The US Congress was debating the much-contested (by Trump) Presidential election result, with a view to ratifying Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President-elect and Vice President-elect. Once confirmed, there was no going back – no more legal challenges, no more denial, just acceptance. If confirmed by Congress, Biden would be inaugurated as President on the 20th of January.
And, to make the process that little bit smoother in his typical, societially-consciencious way, Trump held a massive rally in Washington DC yesterday morning. He and his lackeys spat venom at the Democrats, insisting, despite everything, that he had won the election by a landslide.
And it’s worth remembering at this point just where Trump has got to in the past few weeks. He has:
- Filed 62 lawsuits against various states claiming that the election was fradulent, losing 61 of them (and winning a mere handful of votes in the successful one);
- Given the Democrats control of the Senate by losing two seats in Georgia (despite calling the state’s top election official, Republican Brad Raffensperger, and asking him to illegally find him votes);
- And made significant firings in the civil service, replacing top officials within the Pentagon and other crucial defense positions with his own loyalist puppets.
And so it was little surprise that yesterday’s rally was touted as being a final opportunity to “Stop the Steal.” Trump even said it himself.
And so it was. Trump whipped the crowd into a frenzy.
And Rudy Giuliani openly called for violence. No, really.
And so, perhaps just enjoying the last moments of his boob-ermensch Presidency, or perhaps truly wishing for civil unrest to overturn the election, Trump paved the way for what happened next.
If you can spare a few minutes to watch this astonishing report, I would highly recommend it:
Inspired by Trump’s words, thousands of furious protestors stormed the Capitol building. The building itself was ransacked, with windows smashed, Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s sign being removed from the door and destroyed, and all politicians and civil servants evacuated.
Republicans and Trump loyalists took to Twitter to beg the protestors to stop, to no avail. Trump himself asked, begrudgingly, for peace…
But that had about as much impact as a Nerf gun fired at a concrete bunker.
Rumours spread that the National Guard refused to arrive to disperse the crowd – the Head of the Guard had recently been replaced by a Trump puppet. Eventually, arrive they did, supposedly under orders from Mike Pence, Trump’s Vice President, rather than Trump himself.
Commendably, once the protestors had dispersed, Congress gathered again later in the day and Joe Biden was confirmed as US President-elect. But the damage was already done. Scenes of carnage at the heart of US democracy were viewed across the world by allies and foes alike.
A dark day for Western democracy, indeed.
I hesitate to use a tweet from Piers Morgan, but given his nose was once so far up Donald Trump’s nethers that he could wear him as a hat, it’s perhaps fitting to use this as the defining image of the chaos:
YOU KNOW WHEN YOU’VE BEEN TANGO’ED
The depressing thing about all of this is that we saw it coming from a mile away. Being a lefty-liberal snowflake who commits the cardinal sin of listening to facts and data rather than opinions, I was genuinely surprised by how restrained Trump’s presidency has been.
Yes, I consider inciting racial hatred, suggesting bleach injections and riding roughshod over the American consitution, as he has done consistently for the last four years, to be restrained. Because yesterday the true face of Trumpism finally came out, and it could have been like that from the start. It took until the very last minute for it to emerge, but emerge it did, like a particularly angry spot finally popping on a teenager’s face.
Trump is quite clearly an underdeveloped, sociopathic narcissist. He, or at least his political advisors, cleverly positioned him as the champion of the people, despite being the son of a billionaire, albeit an emotionally-abused one. He has no concept of decency, higher power or responsibility – the only person Trump cares about is Trump.
So it’s little wonder that, rather than allow the peaceful transition of power like nigh-on every President that came before him, he instead chose to denigrate one of the most respected and authoritative positions in the world.
Trump knew no other way to behave, as he’s simply not been told “No” enough times in his life. This will be Trump’s legacy and his lasting effect on American discourse.
A sad, greasy, orange stain on the history of one of the world’s superpowers.
And what of the rioters? What of those who desecrated one of the altars of democracy?
Strangely enough, I feel more pity than anger. Yes, of course there is no place whatsoever for the kind of actions that they took. There is no excusing the damage done to both the physical manifestation of democracy and to the concept of it itself.
But when you watch the video above and you listen to these people, they aren’t anarchists. They aren’t trying to dismantle the processes of government for shits and giggles. They consider themselves to be freedom fighters, rebelling against a system that has economically left them behind and culturally left them alienated.
Trump and his merry band of fascist populists tapped into that anger. So, too, have conspiracy sites like QAnon, Flat-Earth Theorists or even Margaret From Down The Road. It is almost impossible to critically assess a theory when it aligns into your own world-experiences – “I feel abandoned, and these powerful people are telling me it’s the fault of these other powerful people.” It’s an easy pill to swallow.
So while I have no sympathy for the vandalism and violence, I have plenty for their motives. It is Biden’s unenviable task to reach out to these people and convert them, as they are soon to be abandoned by the Republicans, too. Disgusted with Trump’s behaviour, the GOP’s Faustian Pact with Trump is soon to be coming to an end, with rumours abound that Mike Pence might remove Trump from office sooner rather than later via the 25th amendment.
While a smattering of Trump loyalists might stay with him to the last, the fact that Mitch McConnell, a key figure in the Trump administration, proclaimed yesterday that the election results should stand before the riot even started, shows that it seems as though most Republicans are ready to finally wash their hands of him.
Trump’s time is up. What his followers do next, however, is anyone’s guess.