Covid-176

Dan O'Heirity

The Continued Attempt to Make Sense of the Insurrection in America

Over the last few days I’ve written posts about the insurrection or attempted coup or riot or whatever you want to call it that happened in Washington. I have been clear, as I always am, that I am no expert in American history or politics. However, looking at a range of stories today from very reputable news outlets I can see that I was not too far off the mark with some of my opinions. I regularly read stories from The Guardian because they are unbiased, well as far as reporting can be unbiased, and because they are intelligent and insightful. It is for this reason that I subscribe even though all Guardian content is freely available. Solid journalism needs to be supported. So to a story from The Guardian which starts with the opening statement, “Call me old-fashioned, but when the president of the United States encourages armed insurgents to breach the Capitol and threaten the physical safety of Congress, in order to remain in power, I call it an attempted coup“. The article does not pull any punches saying that Trump should immediately be impeached, convicted and removed from office. However, as reported by The Conversation, the issue of “what to do with Trump” is far from straightforward. The Guardian article also calls for immediate and harsh action against members of the Republican party who have been complicit in Trump’s campaign to undermine democracy in America. The article also makes the point that the “Trump ecosystem” remains firmly in place meaning that there are individuals, companies and media platforms that “enabled” Trump to stage this coup. Unless this ecosystem is dismantled, Trump, and his many supporters will remain a force to be reckoned with in the future.

There is a second excellent article from The Guardian that takes more of a longitudinal view of the attempted coup. The article states that the insurrection, “was the tragic yet inevitable consequence of the far-right movement the president has built and fostered over the last five years“. Before I continue with The Guardian story, take a look at this report from CNN on the absolute inevitability of the insurrection given Trump’s presidency.

However, that is only the beginning of the condemnation of Trump’s presidency. Essentially the article argues that Trump’s presidency has been defined by his right-wing extremist views and by fundamental attempts to undermine the “pillars of democracy” including “equality under the law, the freedom of the press, an independent judicial system and, ultimately, even elections themselves“. The article also points to worrying aspects to Trump’s right wing extremism that I had not considered. First, the article suggests that the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom tied itself to Trump with too many politicians “fawning” over the president. Secondly, the coup should act as a wake up call to democracies around the world. I believe the argument here is that if it can happen in America then it can happen anywhere. Finally, 74 million people voted for Trump in November 2019. This goes to the ecosystem point that was made above. Trump has a massive supporter base and whilst he will undoubtedly have lost a degree of support from sane minded Americans, one can be absolutely certain that the far right extremists will still very much be in his camp. After all he has cajoled them and encouraged them throughout his presidency. Consider then that we will have an insane, disenfranchised ex-president with an extreme right support group likely numbering in its millions. The future of democracy in America is far from safe.

I wrote a little earlier about Trumps’ popular support base and in this respect another article from The Guardian looks into Trump’s mid-west support base post the insurrection. Let’s start with the most startling of facts. There is both condemnation and support for what happened. Yes, really, there are people in America who are so stupid and so irrational that they support what happened. I am not saying that American is the only country populated by stupid people. However, the fact of some supporting what happened seems incredible. OK. Deep breath. To be fair The Guardian presents a very balanced piece and I would say that the people interviewed are distraught and confused, like they can’t process what has happened. One interviewee says, “They were violent, though. Do I think his rhetoric might have caused that? Well, yeah, maybe to some of these people whose brains aren’t quite the proper way“. As with this interviewee, no one is coming out and saying that what happened was right but the thing is that some at least feel that the election was stolen and that’s the real point. Trump managed to convince millions of people that the “fairest election in American history” was in fact just a fraud. He managed to peddle the lie of mass conspiracy with forces rallying against him to steal the election. There are thinking Republicans who believe this and they were not the ones marching on the Capitol. There are non thinking Republicans who did march on the Capitol. However, my view is that there is a third group of Republicans who do not believe Trump’s lies but who used Trump’s imprimatur as the excuse that they needed to act out their violence for their own purposes. Perhaps that is what Trump has failed to see. Or scarily he might see it, the massing of an extreme right wing with an agenda of its own. Make your own judgement from this video report.

I grew up in 80’s binging on movies by Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and Jean Claude Van Damme amongst many others. Call me overthinking, but even at early on I admired these actors for a host of reasons. With Schwarzenegger it was the fact that an immigrant from Austria with no acting ability managed to forge a Hollywood career for himself. He knew his value, believed in himself and succeeded. I believed a lot of other things about Schwarzenegger including the fact that he could be a good actor given the chance. As with the other 80’s stars, this has been borne out in their later careers. Schwarzenegger for example has taken on much more nuanced roles that require sensitivity and emotional intelligence. His 2015 movie Maggie in which he takes care of his daughter who is slowly turning into a cannibalistic zombie would be an example. But who would ever have thought that the most genuine, the most heartfelt, the most emotional and truthful condemnation of the Capitol insurrection would come from Arnie. And yet here it is and you know why. Life experience. Being up to and against true horrors that have revealed and imprinted the truth about what people are capable of doing. Schwarzenegger has lived it and that is why he can speak with such conviction and authority. Good on you Arnie. And America you stand condemned by his words because whilst you all vacillate and shift and debate and excuse, this man knows the face of evil. And that face is Trump.

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