Yesterday’s shocking scenes in Washington DC left the world reeling at the unprecedented sight of Trump supporters storming the Capitol Building. Rolling media coverage called the events many things, but not terrorism. A few pointed to Trump’s incitement and provocative statements as the cause.
This was a blatant attempt to derail American democracy and overturn the result of the presidential election. It was disgraceful. So bad, in fact, that social media have blocked Trump’s accounts, including Twitter.
The day was supposed to be one when a joint session of Congress would confirm the Electoral College vote, and thus declare Joe Biden to be the next US president. It is a ritual as old as US democracy itself, and yet Trump continued to insist that the election was “fraudulent” and the presidency was, therefore “stolen” from him. He had urged his supporters to go to Washington DC in a show of force as he vowed never to concede the election. He told the crowd to head for Capitol Hill, stating that, “We’re going to the Capitol to try and give them [members of Congress] the kind of pride and boldness that they need to take back our country.”
It has been suggested that such incitement is reason enough to have him removed from the presidency under the terms of the 25th amendment to the US Constitution. It has never been used to transfer power, but it would mean that Vice President Mike Pence would be in charge until Biden is sworn in on 20 January. The amendment was written specifically to cover situations where the president is unable to perform the duties of the position, probably for medical reasons. Never has it been envisaged that a president may be removed for showing such disrespect for the Constitution, democracy, and the rights of the people.
Commentators have also pointed out that if, for example, those breaking into and violating the sanctity of the Capitol Building had been members of the Black Lives Matter movement then the body count would have been much greater than four. It was a disgrace that those who entered the building were not arrested immediately; even Trump should, surely, face some sort of legal accountability for his influence in provoking this attack. Although the National Guard was activated eventually, it was too late and American citizens have every right to ask why the US Capitol was left so exposed on a day when it must have been known that Trump and his supporters would do something untoward.
The world has now seen how far Trump can go to hold on to power, but will his allies in the Middle East take this on board? It’s a wake-up call; if he is ready to destroy his own country in this way, why would he worry about causing death and destruction elsewhere, even within the next two weeks? Many national leaders around the world have condemned yesterday’s violence in Washington, and need to reconsider their relationship with Trump. He must get the message loud and clear that democracy will always prevail against tyranny, even when it has a veneer of democratic terminology.
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.