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The Financial Express

OPINION

Trump's legacy


US President Donald Trump is seen at the end of his campaign rally last year –Reuters file photo US President Donald Trump is seen at the end of his campaign rally last year –Reuters file photo

The  January 6 attack on US Capitol, the seat of the US Congress, has shaken the world. As the most powerful country dictating global events for over three quarters of a century, whatever happens in America impacts the rest of the world. Students of politics, civil society institutions and the press including political parties in the developing nations closely follow the political events of the USA. They watch the US election process, the way the major political parties - the Democrats and the Republicans -- nominate their candidates, the working of the House of Representatives and the Senate in the Congress, and consider those as lessons in democracy at work. And they wonder at the freedom, privilege and respect the press enjoy there.

But these students of democracy in the countries where there is little or no democracy were stunned by the mob frenzy at the very place where America's democratic heart throbs, the Capitol. And what that mob was doing was at the instance of a sitting president, Donald Trump, who does not believe in people's electoral verdict, though he himself came to power through such a verdict. And he incited his followers, a mob comprising mostly ultra-right extremists-white supremacists, neo-Confederates, neo-Nazis, neo-fascists, Klansmen (members of notorious Ku Klux Klan gangs)  and various right-wing armed militias) -- to disrupt the process of power transfer to the winner of the November 3 election, Joe Biden, taking place in the Capitol building.  

 But how did the president react to the perpetrators of the outrage at the Capitol?  "Go home. We love you. You are very special!"

The anarchy unleashed at the Capitol building was shocking. But was it surprising? Perhaps not. Anyone with common sense who had been watching the US political events during the last four Trump years should not be surprised. It was predictable. The continued attacks on every democratic institution by President Trump himself and his followers went on with impunity. In August 2017, a neo-Nazi white supremacist supporter of far right rally drove his car into a crowd of people peacefully protesting in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one and injuring nine people.  But President Trump did not condemn the attack, which the Charlottesville mayor termed 'domestic terrorism'. Neither the president consoled the bereaved mother of the victim, Heather Meyer. He rather praised the ultra-Right group behind the 'terror attack' as having very fine people among them. He was clearly endorsing the far right neo-Nazis responsible for the heinous act.  Similar ultra-right violent pro-Trump demonstrations took place in Berkeley, California, where they clashed with anti-Trump demonstrators. At the end of August last year, truckloads of these same pro-Trump hooligans rampaged through Portland in Oregon and engaged in clashes with pro-'Black Lives Matter' protestors. A man was shot dead during those violent incidents. President Trump's reaction? His view was that the violent pro-Trump rallies were 'big backlash' against 'Black Lives Matter Movement' and termed Portland's mayor as 'incompetent' as he did not call the 'federal guards' that was kept 'ready' to quell the 'pro-Black Lives Matter' demonstrators! While the President indulged in the excesses committed by the far-right mobs, he was for using federal forces against the peaceful demonstrators who were demanding justice for the killing of George Floyd, an African-American, at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25 this year.  

The incumbent President, using his elected office, had been consistently waging a propaganda war against democracy and its intuitions. His method has been fiendish: dismissing factual press reports as fake and claiming lies to be true. In fact, being at the head of a grand alliance of far-right groups, he had been systematically working to overthrow American democracy. January 6 'insurrection' was the culmination of that plot. 

The Democrats have now majority in both the Houses of the Congress.  They have taken a second impeachment move against Trump. It would perhaps remain a symbolic move as they lack two-thirds majority in the Senate to push it through.

Trump's legacy will be a gashing wound of division in American society. Will the upcoming president Joe Biden be able to heal it? Let us hope he will succeed. 

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