2021 – the year that keeps on giving.
Everyone has an opinion on the events at the Capitol building in Washington on 6th January. Many people blame Donald Trump for inciting a mob of his supporters to try to prevent the succession of power from himself to Joe Biden. But a lot of people don’t. They don’t accept that this was a fair election – which is an echo from four years ago, when Trump was elected. It seems to be an American thing to take the eternal dance of power in any democracy as a personal affront. Remember “not my president” from 2016? But the difference back then was the transfer of power from Obama to Trump was transparent and peaceful.
Not this time.
Trump complained even before the election took place that it was rigged, that there was no way he could lose a fair election to Joe Biden. I believe he was setting the scene in case he lost and on 6th January Trump attempted a coup. Fiona Hill’s article Yes, it was a coup attempt is well worth reading. Here’s a quote from the article:
“Technically, what Trump attempted is what’s known as a “self-coup” and Trump isn’t the first leader to try it. Charles Louis Napoleon Bonaparte (nephew of the first Napoleon) pulled one off in France in December 1851 to stay in power beyond his term. Then he declared himself Emperor, Napoleon III. More recently, Nicolas Maduro perpetrated a self-coup in Venezuela after losing the 2017 elections.” The author also mentions the actions of Turkey’s Erdogan.
But did Trump actually incite his supporters in his speech on 6th January? Or did they just ‘get carried away? This deep analysis of Trump’s speech leading to the march on the Capitol is long but fascinating.
Congress has voted for a second impeachment which will likely take place after Joe Biden becomes president (assuming the Senate votes in favour). But there’s plenty of evidence on social media to suggest that the Duck Dynasty and QAnon are prepared to have another crack in the days leading up to, and including, the inauguration.
This is just one example. Note that supporters are exhorted to ‘come armed’. And even more state legislatures will be targeted. (The events of 6th January were not confined to Washington. Here’s a news article on that subject.)
All this is disturbing to say the least. I’m not the only person who noted the parallels with the failed Nazi Party Munich putsch in 1923. The FBI is rounding up people who participated in the Capitol attack and the Capitol building is now full of troops to ensure there is no repetition of the events of last week. We can only hope it doesn’t come to armed conflict.
Most of Trump’s more moderate supporters are abandoning him. The PGA has withdrawn tournaments from his golf courses, donors to campaigns have walked away, companies who have used the Trump name under licence are re-considering. But the one that has hit hardest is he’s been kicked off Twitter and Facebook and his attempt to reconvene his troops on Parler (another social media app frequented by right-wing activists) ended when Google and Apple refused to host the app.
These social media platforms have banned the President of the USA (which he is until 20th January) because he has breached their terms of service. It is clear to me that he has, in fact, done that. Here are Twitter’s terms of service. It’s not censorship. These private companies have every right to decide who can use their services and who cannot. Trump is not mute. He can still hold press conferences – but he despises the news media. He still has a press office. He still appears on the news.
Censorship is what happens on the internet in China where the Chinese Communist Party decides what can or cannot be posted. Google is banned in China and the chat platform, MeWe, is monitored. I hope we never, ever get to that stage. As for Trump, in China he would just disappear. As he would in Russia, and Turkey, and Iran.
Meanwhile, I’ll bet I’m not the only one keeping an eye on what’s happening in America. Joe Biden has a huge task in front of him, what with the fallout from Trump’s disruption, growing sabre-rattling from China, and, of course, covid-19. His recent speech, outlining his plans for rolling out vaccines and supporting people through this crisis, is encouraging. But he’ll have to get through to 21st January first.
Let’s hope it’s the beginning of a more positive time for America and its people.