The conspiracy theories of the outgoing President of the United States of America, Donald Trump, have exposed the flaws in the American democracy which is approaching its third century. The invasion of the Capitol Hill which houses the legislative chambers, just a stone’s throw from the White House, by thugs during a plenary with backing from Trump, is indeed saddening and shameful. This is a clear act of sedition punishable with jail terms, and therefore must be condemned.
The most horrible part is that the mob that invaded a sacred place like the Capitol was cheered on by Trump with complimentary remarks as ‘We love you”, “You’re special” etc. No condemnation whatsoever. The show of shame disrupted the Congress plenary, led to the hijacking of offices and death of four persons and many seriously injured including 50 cops. Of course, Trump wouldn’t have condemned their actions having purposefully mobilised them for a rally in Washington on January 6 the Congress was billed to certify Democrats victory, and openly instigated them to march to the Capitol to violently resist certification. To say the least, that was an uncivilised act.
Americans owe a debt of gratitude to the arrowheads that doggedly refused to be counted in the mediocrity. If not for the maturity of the President of the Senate, VP Mike Pence, the victory being celebrated wouldn’t have come about. It climaxed that Trump openly urged Pence to use his office for the illicit task. America needs more of Pence’s character. He deserves commendation for his significant role in protecting America’s democracy. Pence paired with Trump as Republican Vice presidential candidate, yet, prioritised public interest. Many selfish persons in his shoes would have backed Trump to overturn the results autocratically. But he put public interest above personal gains.
Now, the question begging for answers is; should Trump go scot-free despite his involvement in sedition and insurrection that led to the death of citizens and almost collapsed the country’s democratic institution? Trump should face the wrath of the law to serve as a deterrent to others. The law is no respecter of persons. A political leader who incites and mobilises a mob to unleash mayhem leading to the death of persons is a good candidate for trial on crimes against humanity. The mayhem was targeted at the members of the US Congress after the Vice President declined to tamper with the sacred will of the American people, but they were whisked away into the basement.
Prior to this, Trump had urged the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensperger, in a telephone conversation, to “find 11,780 votes” to enable him to overturn the election results already declared in favour of Democratic Party’s candidate, Joe Biden. This is certainly an offence in the Electoral Laws: to induce officials or manipulate the electoral process. This must not be swept under the carpet. Otherwise, it will set a wrong precedent in America and around the world. Trump crossed the red line, and should be made to face the law.
Besides, his statement to allow “orderly transition” should not be banked on. People as desperate as this can unleash costly mayhems at a time least expected. As it stands, uncertainty on what may happen before the inauguration date looms. Recall the Capitol Police was overpowered having been taken unaware.
The way forward? The 25th Amendment of the US Constitution which gives power to remove a President temporarily when unfit should be invoked to suspend Trump from office to allow the Vice President to carry on a peaceful transition of power. Possibly, he should be impeached straightaway. This will send a strong message. With the monumental stain, Trump lacks the aptitude to be categorised as a US statesman.
Secondly, the two-step electoral system in the US comprising popular votes and Electoral College should be reviewed as the recent calamities have exposed its vulnerability. The same with Congress certification except for mere transmission. Imagine if Pence had bowed to Trump’s conspiracy theories, Biden’s victory wouldn’t have been sustained; the election would either have been overturned or declared inconclusive against the January 20 inauguration despite verdicts of 62 courts including the Supreme Court’s. Nobody or institution including the Congress or Electoral College can override court verdicts. That’s the concept of rule of law. A general poll with election tribunals in place which concludes at the court as practised in many countries remains the best option.
Now, great lessons to the world. Trump’s excesses have been manifesting, unsettling long ago from his first day in office, and at a time, impeached by the Senate but acquitted by the House of the Representatives merely on account of political affiliation and selfish interests. There should always be a boundary between politics and leadership. Public interest is supreme. Had the Republicans acted astutely and did the needful, the mess would have been averted.