Wow. It cannot have escaped your notice that last night our time there was a riot/mob invasion/attempted coup, call it what you will, where an angry crowd stormed the Capitol Building and managed to enter and occupy it for several hours. This invasion was directly incited by Trump who earlier in the day had made speeches telling his supporters at a rally to head up to Capitol Hill and make their feelings known. And they duly obliged; hundreds of his cult followers, ready to die (or preferably kill) for their cause and believing implicitly in his false narrative, did exactly as he told them and stormed the building, climbing walls and smashing windows, causing congressmen and -women to hide in their offices with gas masks on and refusing to leave. They were eventually ousted and over 50 arrests were made, though only four people died, a woman who was shot and later died in hospital, and three who are described as having medical problems, as yet unspecified. Biden appeared on TV at around nine o’clock our time having changed his planned speech to one of condemnation and calling on Trump to go on live TV ‘now’ and tell the mob to disperse. He said exactly the right things, though as ever with the same deadpan delivery which leaves you yearning for just a smidgen of passion.
Well, Trump did eventually appear, not on TV which presumably he no longer trusts but on social media, to call on the mob to go home – though in the process he repeated his false claims of fraud and victory and told the mob ‘we love you,’ something it’s hard to imagine him saying to any other crowd of protestors. And eventually Congress regained control and were able, at three in the morning, to certify Joe Biden as the next president of the US.
We picked up on events around 8 pm having had a message on Facebook, and were glued to the news until bedtime. In fact I couldn’t sleep; I kept wanting to turn my phone on and see what had happened, though I knew this was a very bad idea. It was one of those moments when almost anything could happen; a turning-point in history.
Several things stand out from the way this insurrection was dealt with. First, that politician after politician, both in the US and elsewhere, spoke out in condemnation of the mob and practically all of them laid the blame firmly at Trump’s door. They stood up for the constitution and the rule of law and that is a good thing. But what was going on with the police? Anyone could have seen this coming after the rallies in the afternoon, but the police were either negligent and unprepared or else complicit. It’s hard to know which. And it’s glaringly obvious now, if it wasn’t before, that the police deal differently with black and white protesters. If this had been a BLM protest we would now have many more corpses and hundreds more arrests but at times the police seemed to just stand by and let it happen.
I may be wrong but I think Trump has now finally dished himself. After this, no republican will touch him with a barge pole; he has brought his party and his office into disrepute and may yet be removed from office before his time. He will go down as the worst president in US history and should he be so foolish as to come back in 2024 he will get nowhere. Biden’s problem now is to deal with Trump’s sizeable cult following and to try somehow to bring together a nation ravaged by coronavirus, racism and division.