Saturday, May 21

Tyrants look with glee at what Trump has done to American democracy | Andrew Rawnsley | Opinion

meSince losing the election last November, there have been totally credible reports that Donald Trump is toying with issuing a presidential term. forgive yourself. What he will never achieve is relief from the verdict of history on his miserable presidency. It will be a defining image and an enduring epitaph: the invasion and looting of the United States Capitol by a mob that he incited to prevent Congress from certifying that Joe Biden had won a free and fair election. It is highly debatable whether the use of the 25th amendment or a second impeachment will now bring a slightly earlier conclusion to America’s long national nightmare by ousting him before the official end of his term on January 20. Be that as it may, posterity will condemn him as the president who conspired to subvert the constitution he solemnly swore to preserve and protect.

Historians will also dwell on some of the other players at play, including the Republican senators and congressmen who indulged or fanned their plan to overturn the election result by selling fraud allegations that were themselves fraudulent and have been investigated and rejected at all levels of government. None of that, or questions about the role social media plays and why security around Congress is so easily violated, should distract us from the fundamental point. The blame for the violent assault on the heart of American democracy rests squarely on him, as even some of his most ardent apologists have recognized.

An event can be shocking and at the same time unsurprising. The dark hours in which the Capitol was invaded by a pro-Trump horde, some of the invaders emblazoned with Nazi slogans, were the product of four dark years of vandalism it has unleashed against the United States body politic. The assault on the Capitol was the savage consummation of a presidency founded, nurtured, and nurtured by division; a presidency that has set democratic norms, fostered insane conspiracy theories, and made lies the main bargaining chip of its public discourse since its inception.

It was a terrifyingly fitting ending that he used demagoguery fueled by falsehoods to invite lawmakers to assault. inflaming a rally called “Save America” ​​declaring: “You will never recover our country with weakness. You have to show strength. “His personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was even more explicitly insurrectionary when he told the crowd: “Let’s do a trial by combat.” The horde, some of them armed, invaded the Capitol shouting Trump’s lying mantra: “Stop the robbery!” The mobster-in-chief, the kingpin of chaos, released a pre-recorded video expressing his “love” for the “very special” people who threatened elected representatives and rampaged through the holiest chambers of American democracy while regurgitating lies. who won the elections. Liz Cheney, the third-highest-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, offered a quote for the history books when she said: “There is no doubt that the president formed the mob, the president incited the mob, the president addressed the mob. She lit the flame. “She’s right. Mitt Romney, the Utah senator and former presidential candidate, had something to say to those in his party who colluded with the plan to delegitimize the election result. The Scream in his direction: “This is what you got.” He is correct.

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“This is trash from the banana republic” said Mike Gallagher, a Republican congressman, before making this request to its author. “Mr. President, you have to stop this. Cancel it! The election is over. Cancel it! This is bigger than you. ”He was also right, but was hopelessly naive to think that Trump could ever conceive of something greater than himself.

Only much later did he seek to distance himself from the mob he had instigated and ignited. In a robotic statement that some compared to a hostage video, he redefined his “very special” people as the perpetrators of a “heinous act.” This change of face came only after the insurrection failed, when even some formerly staunch loyalists abandoned him in disgust and advisers warned that he had been exposed to prosecution for sedition. A forced demotion that reeked of insincerity does nothing to ease the most damning verdict against this president. It can be argued that there are snippets of breath that can be drawn from the day of infamy. Once the rioters were removed from the Capitol, Congress reconvened in the early hours to certify Joe Biden as the next president. Surprisingly, more than a hundred Republicans in Congress continued to collude with Trump even after the building storming, but it should be noted that others have demonstrated a commendable dedication to democracy.

The ugly events on Capitol Hill overshadowed a revelation earlier in the week that the president had tried unsuccessfully bully Brad Raffensperger, a Republican and senior election official in Georgia, on “finding” enough votes to change the outcome in that state. The justices have ruled out more than 60 Trumpian tactics to discredit the election. The conservative-dominated supreme court, three of whose judges are Trump appointments, rejected his attempts to block ballots in several key states that voted for Biden. Thus, you can argue that the constitution and the republic’s adherence to democratic values ​​have finally proven robust enough to stand up to the severe stress test inflicted by this disgraced president.

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However, there is a terrible cost to America’s experiment with Trumpism, and the price will continue to be paid after he is removed from office. The catastrophic debris left behind by his presidency shouldn’t be counted just among the shattered glass, smashed offices, and deaths on Capitol Hill. The cost of Trumpism must also be counted in a poisoning of American politics. It is an electoral failure. Never forget that he lost the popular vote in both races he fought, defeated by a resounding margin of more than 7 million. votes last november. Yet it has been terribly successful in undermining faith in American democracy and corroding respect for it abroad. At one time, you would have assumed that the spectacle of rioters desecrating the national legislature would turn down Republican voters. In general, they like to think that they belong to the party of law and order. So it is testimony to the scale of his evil accomplishment what Trump voter poll suggests that two-thirds buy his big lie that the election was stolen and how many approved as he deplored the chaos unleashed in the citadel of democracy in his country. Trump has done far more damage to confidence in America’s system of government than Vladimir Putin’s battalions of cyber agents ever have.

By so vilely stripping his high office, he has also made it much more difficult for the values ​​of freedom to prevail in the vital global contest to combat resurgent despotism. Freedom House’s latest audit of pluralism and democracy comes to the fatal conclusion that the world is becoming less free as dictators tighten their grip in some regions, while would-be despots stretch and unravel the fabric of democracy elsewhere. Trump is not solely responsible for this sad trend, but he has helped exaggerate it by demoralizing those who fight for civil liberties and fair elections and emboldening his opponents. America’s claim to be a “beacon of freedom” has always been questionable. Beneath him, the idea became laughable.

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The violence on Capitol Hill was watched with horror in the capitals of liberal democracies and with glee among the rulers of Russia, China and Iran. Many of the world’s nastiest regimes used the grisly end of Trump’s presidency to justify their own autocracies. Beijing had another chance to present democracy as a recipe for anarchy. Tehran took it with glee as proof of “how vulnerable and fragile Western democracy is.” From Moscow came the mocking assertion that “American democracy obviously limps on both feet.”

We must hope that this is the final service that Trump will render to the world’s autocracies after four years of offering them encouragement. From Jair Bolsonaro of Brazil to Viktor Orbán in Hungary and Rodrigo Duterte in the Philippines, the authoritarians recognized themselves in their behavior and from there they drew strength. The Trump presidency has emboldened autocrats around the world to believe that liberal democracy is in decline and that tomorrow belongs to them. It is not just the United States that has suffered a terrible toll from the Trump presidency. The cost is being paid in lost freedom across the planet.

Andrew Rawnsley is the Observer’s chief political commentator

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