If I was an American, I’d be broken-hearted tonight.
I’ve refrained from commenting much on American politics since the election. The events have spoken for themselves, and while it’s been messy and strident and ugly, there was nothing really unexpected. Like many of us, I never believed that Trump, or his supporters, would go quietly. And yet, right now, I struggle to get my head around what’s happened today: the storming of the Capitol building by Trump’s ragtag mob.
I sent a message this morning to a friend when the news broke: “Amazing. But somehow, not surprising.”
Not surprising, but I feel a form of wonder. It’s one thing to conjecture that anything was possible, quite another to actually see it happening. It’s a blow to the system. I felt it inside me. This was America. It was like watching as a mighty tree that’s stood for hundreds of years in the forest was being toppled.
It’s bizarre to watch the imagery coming out of Washington. A more feral bunch of morons you’d never hope to see. They’re dressed in combat jackets and draped in confederate flags. One is bare-chested, fur draped around his shoulders and wearing a horned helmet. They’re the disaffected dregs of society, hillbillies and social misfits and undoubtedly a fair few inches. They’ve been given power throughout all this, encouraged by Trump and his establishment, and incited to drastic acts like this by the likes of Rudi Giuliani. This must be what it was like when the Vandals sacked Rome.
It seems apparent that this was allowed to happen. There seemed little security at the Capitol Building ahead of what was a monumental occasion. There’s footage of guards letting the mob through, and others having selfies taken with them. Inside, the mob ran riot. Senators and staffers took shelter behind barricaded doors while the mob took control of the chamber. Two people have shot; one has died.
Police and National Guard have now taken control, long after they might have. Trump absconded his responsibilities and in a rational world can no longer go on as President for this last fortnight of his tenure. He should, in fact, be impeached. This was an insurrection, and there can be no doubt that Trump has incited it.
No surprise, and yet, there is shock. It has actually come to this.
So, what happens now? It’s a tricky time, and anything is possible. Trump should be impeached, but I suspect he won’t be. Perhaps he’ll be censured. I can’t see how it’s possible that he can continue as president. Pence must assume the role.
This is a country divided, though. Trump will go, many of the mob will be imprisoned, but the problems run much deeper than that. Nearly half of America voted for Trump. A goodly portion of them are fanatics and believe that they’ve been ripped off, and have god on their side. Even with Biden assuming office, they will remain.
I can’t see much end to the dissent and violence. The mob will rule again. Perhaps it will die away in time, but I think it won’t go far away. It’s in the blood of many now. It’s heartfelt belief. They will rouse again until there is such a figure that can heal the country. In the meantime, the risk is making political prisoners of the terrorists who stormed congress today and, with Trump, martyrs of them. Trump will go, but he’ll remain a rallying cry for millions.
It’s bad enough that such a terrible attack on democracy has occurred today, but what is heartbreaking is that there are two Americas, and never shall they meet.