January 6, 2021 will go down in the history of America as its darkest day of democracy. A country, which preaches human rights and democracy and prided itself as the most democratic country for the rest of the world, stood shamed in its eyes.
Senator Schumer tweeted, “This will be a stain on our country not so easily washed away. The final, terrible, indelible legacy of the 45th president of the United States. Undoubtedly our worst.”
As lawmakers met inside the Capitol Hill to certify President-elect Joe Biden’s November 3rd election victory, President Donald Trump incited violence resulting in his supporters indulging in mayhem, to overturn election results, injuring many and killing four, maybe five.
Historians were reminded of the events of August 24, 1814, when in the Battle of Bladensburg resulted in British victory, which left Washington DC perilously open to British invasion. As a result of this embarrassing defeat of American forces it resulted in British Army men to set fire to public buildings, including the presidential mansion, which was later rebuilt and now is called White House.
Capitol Hill attacked
History was repeated on January 6th when Trump supporters stormed the Capitol Hill, resulting in chaos lasting hours till, Washington was placed under curfew.
After egging his supporters during a morning rally, President Trump asked his supporters to go home, yet not accepting the election results. Chemical irritants were deployed both by the police and Trump supporters who ‘tornaded’ inside the building resulting in elected representatives crouching under desks wearing gas masks.
Some feared their death was near and had started sending ‘love you’ messages to their family and friends, as the mob entered the building, destroying everything on its way.
Congress member Mondaire Jones was on the house floor of the house when it was stormed. “My life literally flashed before my eyes,” Jones said. “There was a very loud banging sound behind me. I was sitting towards the back, next to other members of Congress. And it was clear there was no security separating the people banging on the door and us.”
Enforcement agencies’ attempted to barricade the building but they were no match to the fury of rioters. 56 police officers were injured while four or five people died, one of them a woman who was shot and killed inside the Capitol building and another a police officer.
During Trump’s speech, he incited his supporters against the media, which according to him, had been biased towards him throughout his Presidency. The rioters directed their anger at the media persons on the lawns resulting in breaking up equipment worth thousands of dollars by the angry mob and totally destroying the camp set up by Associated Press.
While accepting that President Trump’s actions were not justified, yet Republican Senator Lindsay Graham blamed that the media was not fair to Trump and his Presidency. Certainly, on the last days of his Presidency, it was now in crisis, “It hurts to know my close friend Trump allowed what happened.” He called on him to work closely with Biden’s team to ensure peaceful transfer of power.
How Trump incited the rioters
For weeks now, Trump had been asking his supporters to reach Washington to protest Congress’ formal approval of Biden’s victory. Some Republican lawmakers were in the midst of raising objections to the results on his behest when they were rudely interrupted by the storming mob.
Said a Republican Senator, who showed her anger at Trump, “We were almost there. We had made our point but all wasted, thanks to these hooligans unleashed by Trump.”
Graham called these protesters as domestic terrorists and highlighted how insecure the Congress building is. “A building which was supposed to be the most secure in the country, has proved to be vulnerable and some people did not do their job right.”
He highlighted that any terrorist could easily have joined the group of protesters to cause more mayhem. He asked for a peaceful transfer of power and strict punishment to those taking pride in crashing in the building and being photographed sitting on Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s chair. “These people will now be sitting in jails. Everyone will be identified. There is social media everywhere and you cannot escape,” Graham warned.
And it was not just mayhem that was created in Washington, DC but also in other states where government buildings were breached. “Stand up and fight; take your country back; the election was stolen; use combat etc were the words used by sitting President Trump, which incited violence, resulting in the Congress asking for invoking the 25th amendment once again. In a news conference just before going to press, Pelosi called the violence “a seditious act” and said, “If the vice president and the cabinet do not act, the Congress may be prepared to move forward with impeachment.”
Section 4 of the 25th amendment, has never been used before in the country. As per this section, it allows the vice president and a majority of Congress, which could declare in writing about the President’s inability to perform his duties, thus making the vice president as the acting president.
However, under such circumstances, the president can push back and declare himself worthy of office, after which the vice president, Mike Pence, will have four days to disagree. Experts opine, that if this happens, Pence has to act as secretly as possible, or the President has the authority to even fire him, in the last few days of his tenure.
Opines John Bolton, author of ‘The room where it happened’ and former National Security Adviser to President Trump. “Section 4 is not a license for a coup. Calculation has to be argued to the best so there is no counter argument.”
A blow to pro-democracy US image
American government has generally pursued a bottom-up approach by mostly funding international organization that help strengthen gradual democratic transition like the expanded political competition, accountability and rules of law and also providing technical assistance and training.
As the demand for President Trump’s removal increases and heads have started rolling, American democracy stands discredited and shattered. On the one hand, America creates another Covid 19 related death record, thousands are allowed to gather to make their country a laughingstock in the eyes of the world and giving masking and social distancing a boot.
However, as curtains come down on Trump’s Show, the grand finale was filled with fireworks and certainly impressive. Trump painted Washington red with the blood of protestors and police officer who died during the insurrection. Will America ever be great again?
Dr Neelam Batra Verma Author 1971: A War Story