Today marks the one-year anniversary of the January 6 attack on the Capitol Building, the seat of the US federal government. This attack was not done by revolutionaries who had a genuine cause to carry out a coup. They were ordinary American people and supporters of President Trump who were misguided in believing they could help him hold on to the presidency.
The purpose of January 6 attack on the Capitol was to intimidate and disrupt the joint session of Congress assembled to count the electoral votes and formalize President Biden’s victory. This was a constitutional requirement that was presided over by the VP Mike Pence. Had the mob succeeded in getting the VP to not certify the electoral votes, Trump would likely get a chance of holding on to power according to experts of the electoral process.
Since presidential elections began in the US in 1789, no president has found it necessary to challenge America’s presidential election. What made Donald Trump believe he could do this comes as no surprise. During the 2020 presidential campaign, he signaled that if he lost the election, it was because of fraud or the vote was rigged.
Trump failed to do what other presidents before him have done following their defeat – graciously concede and congratulate the victor. Instead, of doing this, he began to advocate the “Big Lie,” that the election was stolen from him. And during his last three weeks in the White House, he orchestrated, like a puppet master, the January 6 attack. Evidence of this has been widely reported in the media (except for Fox TV News) during the past year.
It should not be a surprise that Donald Trump would be the first president to compromise America’s democracy. There were plenty of alerts from psychologists, political pundits, and even Trump’s niece, Mary Trump. These alerts clearly showed that Trump was a deeply flawed man who was unsuitable to hold the complex job of a president.
Trump’s narcissistic personality that fed his superiority attitude – “I alone can fix it,” and does not apologize even when he is wrong; etc. – would not allow him to accept his defeat in the 2020 election.
Many Americans believed that Trump would do what other presidents were unable to do because of his unorthodox and freewheeling leadership style. During the 2020 presidential campaign, he railed against the corrupt political establishment with is slogan to “drain the swamp,” and he showed his disdain for political correctness. As president he did not follow presidential protocols. All of this made people believe that he would alleviate their fears over immigration, losing power, and making them not feel guilty about racism. Unfortunately, Trump has only exacerbated these problems and in the process has brought America to a critical juncture where its democracy is been tested.
In four short years as president, Trump widened political partisan divide in the US Congress. One side believes that he is responsible for inciting the January 6 attack while the other side defends him and do not hold him responsible. When Republican congressional members in the House and the Senate remain loyal to Trump and continue to defend his “Big Lie,” then you know America’s democracy is in real trouble.
Attorney. General Merrick Garland in his status address on the January 6 attack said, “All those who are responsible must be held accountable.” As said before, Trump’s culpability in the January 6 attack is now common knowledge. It therefore, remains to be seen if the attorney general and the January 6 committee are going to hold Trump the puppet master accountable. And if they do, what will be the consequences?
Even if the DOJ and the January 6 committee categorically conclude that Trump is responsible for the January 6 attack, don’t expect him to be convicted by any court. The worst-case scenario will be that he is barred from holding any public office. This will not make America’s democracy whole and it will not ameliorate America’s problems – the political division, racism, and immigration.