The American Coup
January 6, 2021 shattered the myth of the United States of America as a model of democracy and brought shame, disgrace and odium to Washington. It was a day when thugs goaded by a sitting president, Donald John Trump attacked the Capitol, the building housing the chambers of the senate and House of Representatives. The legislators were there to certify the election of Joe Biden as president -elect which is normally a formality and does not attract media attention. But Trump who has refused to concede defeat in the November 3, 2020 election asked his supporters to storm the US congress and stop the certification of Biden as the next president. And the mobs and thugs obeyed their master`s voice and disrupted the activities. The legislators had to run for their lives and to me that is an equivalent of a coup. As one American senator puts it `as the darkest day of our democracy`. And yet another senator called it an everlasting shame.
Predictably, China which has been the butt of American criticism over its handling of Hong Kong mocked American democracy and the double standard and the inability of American allies to criticize the United States. It could be recalled that Russia called the American system of election as archaic and the urgent need for reform. To say the least, the Electoral College system that awards the electoral vote to the winner of a majority in a state is not a true representation of democracy. In 2016, Hilary Clinton won the popular vote but Trump won the electoral vote. The Americans must think outside the box and correct this undemocratic way of choosing their president.
Speaking about the invasion of the chambers of senate and House of Representatives by the supporters of Trump, the president-elect Joe Biden put the blame squarely at the doorstep of the sitting president, adding that it was not a protest but a clear act of sedition which is similar to a coup. Said Biden :`I call on President Trump to go on national television and to fulfill his oath and defend the constitution and demand an end to this siege. To storm the Capitol, to smash windows, to occupy offices of the United States Senate, rummaging through the desks, on the House of Representatives, threatening the safety of duly elected officials, it is not protest, it is sedition, it is insurrection`.
Whether the Grand Old Party (Republican Party) and the supporters of Trump like it or not, it would take a long time to wash this stain from American democracy. The four chaotic years of Trump has really rubbished the image of America and prove the lie that was the assertion of Ronald Reagan that `America is a like a city on a hill`. In other words, American was a shining example of democracy to the rest of the world. When the French people propelled by their revolutionary words of equality, liberty and fraternity donated the Statue of Liberty (that iconic image on New York harbour) , they never dreamt a Donald Trump schooled in the history of slave trade, racial intolerance and Confederates belief that some people were just inferior and should not be given the voting rights. Today America has lost the moral political right to pontificate to others about the fine grains of democracy. Trump is a statement that a powerful president could rubbish the American institutions. The remaining days before the January 20, 2021 inauguration of Joe Biden are really tension soaked and if not well handled, could do a more permanent damage to American democracy.
From day one, Trump was a danger to democracy and many Americans believed his American First policy, the euphemism for white American superiority, an echo of Ku Klux Klan. Al Gore, the vice president to Bill Clinton had a small margin to upturn George Bush Jnr lead in Florida State. But when the court ruled that the votes recounting should be stopped, he obeyed that in the interest of America and sent a congratulatory message to Bush Jnr. Al Gore as the president of the senate did not stop the certification of George Bush victory. This piece must also congratulate Vice President Mark Pence, as the president of the senate who resisted the pressure of Trump to upturn the results of the election, saying that he had no such constitutional power.
It would be recalled that Trump tried to stop Biden from contesting the election by calling on a foreign power to investigate the economic activities of Biden and his son, Hunter. He promised that if that was done, he could extend military and economic assistance to that country. This was a clear case of impeachment: a president trying to use his power against a political opponent. The House of Representatives impeached Trump but a Republican controlled senate acquitted him. Before the November 3, election, Trump said that he will never accept result that was not in his favour and he was faithful to that. As I write this article. Trump is yet to concede defeat. Not too long ago, he tried to put pressure on a state electoral official to change the result in his favour. Trump and his Republican gang filed about sixty court cases and they were all dismissed. He also approached the highest court, the Supreme Court and he was told point blank that he had no evidence to support the electoral claim of rigging. The invasion of the Capitol by Trump supporters was his last effort to change the election result in his favour. Senator Ted Cruz and his fellow delusional legislators will now know that you cannot change the will of the people as expressed in the polls.
The news is that the coup failed and the punishment for a failed coup under military dispensation is death. I do not really know the provisions of the American constitution for a failed coup and I hope that Trump and his supporters will face justice for their political crimes. As for those Nigerians who were demonstrating in favour of Trump, including a vocal former Minister, the truth of the matter is that America is not a land of justice and democracy. There are institutional prejudices against the blacks and Red Indians. There is too much deceit in the American system and it is like a white political tomb. The Americans must look inward and reform their archaic and chaotic electoral system which is everything but democratic. That reformation must start on January 20 and this is the political burden of Joe Biden.
Julius Oweh, a journalist, Asaba, Delta State. 08037768392