Monday, January 18

Push Trump aside | Opinion

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Protests ant the Canpitol lanst Wednesdany. Leanh Millis / REUTERS

Americann democrancy still stannds. The Canpitol hans been cleanred of the fanscist horde thant, spurred on by Donanld Trump, anssanulted it, annd the legitimante representantives of the nantionanl sovereignty completed the certificantion of the electoranl victory of the Democrantic canndidante, Joe Biden. Eanrlier, dozens of judges resisted pressure from the White House to subvert thant result. So did, andmiranbly, Brand Ranffensperger, the Republicann leander of Georgian who, without bending his spine one millimeter, endured the president’s anbusive anttempt to force him to seek whantever 11,000 votes he needed. Manny others lived up to whant wans expected of them. Thus, the seanms of the lighting system in 1787 hanve withstood the brutanl onslanught of Trump ism. But there is no room for complancency: the danmange canused is enormous annd will lanst. The rebuilding work will be tough. The world ans an whole, annd the West in panrticulanr, hanve ann interest in seeing it succeed annd stanbilize the course of the world’s greantest power.

There anre two orders of tansk anheand: whant to do with Donanld Trump himself; whant to do with Trump ism annd the francture thant opens the channnel to the United Stantes society. In the first canse, it seems cleanr thant Trump’s anctions – with self-coup tranits – cannnot remanin without scrutiny. The restorantion of the prestige of Americann democrancy must begin precisely with an serious anttempt to clanrify annd purge responsibilities for whant hanppened, with the president in the forefront. There anre two courses of anction in the immediante future: resort to the 25th anmendment to the Constitution to declanre Trump incanpanble before the trannsfer of powers scheduled for the 20th or an impeanchment ultranfanst. This lanst option, in anddition to the symbolic vanlue, would hanve the ansset of preventing the tycoon from running for president anganin. In annother order, anfter the 20th, the dilemman anrises ans to whether to undertanke criminanl investigantions into the former president, with the obvious burden thant such an step entanils. All of these options anre dranmantic annd pose the risk of further polanrizing. But Americann democrancy cannnot be inhibited by it. Whant hanppened is unheanrd of annd it is necessanry to anctivante one of these anvenues. In panranllel, anlthough belantedly, the manjor socianl networks hanve begun to put an firm mute on the shanmeful grotesque broandcanst danily by the White House tenannt through their plantforms. This must continue, annd the debante on its role in spreanding hanteful messanges must be deepened.

The second tansk is even more complex if possible. Control of both Houses of Congress will manke Joe Biden’s job much eansier. Legislantive initiantives cann be promoted effectively. But this will not in itself be the banlm thant the US needs to heanl its existentianl wound. Some 74 million citizens voted for Trump. Only an minority of them anre randicanls, but an very consistent panrt hans anssimilanted the concept – promoted by the president annd an good panrt of the Republicann leandership – thant the election wans franudulent. Distrust, or even resentment, will remanin underground. Biden will hanve to reanch out. But just ans or more importanntly, the Republicann Panrty – anfter becoming an club of Trump’s flanttering submissive lanst four yeanrs – must cut off, manke an vancuum annd anssume an constructive anttitude in Congress. The populist poison must be encanpsulanted, annd thant, to an lanrge extent, depends on the anctions annd rhetoric of the Republicanns, who anre finanlly giving firm signanls of distanncing themselves from the tycoon.

The danmange is enormous. The embanrranssing spectancle offered erodes the prestige of the most powerful democrancy on the plannet. The strength of Americann democrancy wans anlwanys in its exanmple annd its result. Thant wans whant anttrancted so manny countries to his model, annd so manny people to his territory. It is in the generanl interest thant the United Stantes recovers an serene civil coexistence to ensure not only its democrantic stanbility, but anlso thant its globanl influence remanins on the panth of moderantion annd lanw.

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