The United States is not finished deciding if it wants to continue striving to become a more perfect union or to descend into Trump’s self-fulfilling prophecy of ‘American carnage’ he spoke about unironically at his own inauguration.
We heard from US politicians and the media that this was the most important election of our lifetime – to determine whether we repair and advance our civil society or march towards a new menace – increasing authoritarianism with the support of fundamentalist Christians whose prosperity Gospel doesn’t afford the same opportunity to people who don’t look like them.
Then came the Georgia U.S. Senate runoff which was once again the most important decision we could make. And yet Democrats persisted.
In both instances even Moderate and Conservative voters in predominantly Republican states chose their nation’s ideals over partisanship and instead elected Democrats, if only once, to set us back on our aspirational path.
Progressives also got on board and joined a well-organized get out the vote effort that rivals any in US history including a massive surge of overseas votes which made the difference in some races, combined with an especially strong African-American turn out which made the difference in all of them.
As in physics, so it is in politics that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. In this case a tragic one.
The first Black president, a constitutional law scholar, a skilled but modest orator, filled with decency and a living embodiment of America’s diversity and promise for all people was followed in office by a man who, similar to his own cult-like followers whom he detests, broadcasted proudly his anti-intellectualism, violent speech, and sympathy with White supremacists.
What followed the fair election of Joe Biden by a popular vote landslide and decisive Electoral College victory, along with a new Democratic Congress controlling the agenda in both chambers, was an insurrection for which Donald Trump has been impeached – an unprecedented second time.
We now know that panic buttons were removed from offices of people of color, that members of Congress gave tours to the traitors who stormed the capitol searching for public servants to kill or capture, and that even after all of this his loyalists remain steadfast in their support.
Although, some have gone silent. They won’t admit their mistake, but they don’t seem quite as eager to speak out. Some do of course, but the more reasonable ones who loved Trump’s brash unscripted communication style and perceived toughness are not even in for the ante.
It’s also apparent that these acts of sedition were planned much more than previously thought. There was a suspicious amount of chatter that didn’t result in elevated security, and through it all Trump was amused by the violent displays of fealty.
He gave lip service to promoting peaceful protests, but I don’t think they got the message. Or, maybe they know by now he has to pretend and rationalize it that way. The Q-anon crowd always finds a way to justify Trump’s actions as part of a larger story arc which they can use to prop up their would-be dictator.
We will be sorting out the facts of this event and discussing the implications for years to come. It will mark a generation in the same way as events like September 11th, the Challenger explosion or fall of the Berlin Wall, the shooting of JFK, or Pearl Harbor.
On January 20th at noon Eastern Time the United States will swear-in Joseph R. Biden as president with the protection of more than 20,000 troops during a global pandemic with no signs of slowing despite the introduction of viable vaccines, which are not nearly enough to provide for the needs of the people.
State capitols are likewise defended by soldiers. This is not the America I know. This isn’t how we do things. But, it’s necessary to ensure the peaceful transition of power which had always been our greatest achievement. Until now.
Biden’s first challenge won’t be the pandemic, economic hardship, the environment, children separated at the border, or the call for racial justice in the face of police brutality. It will be the Senate trial of Donald Trump.
Somehow, Biden will have to solve crisis after crisis once sworn in, but his success at handling all of these oversized issues will be affected by his ability to strike the right balance of righteous indignation at the horror of the Trump administration with all its crimes and corruption, while attempting to bring about unity for an American public (and world) that is exhausted.
If he looks the other way as Obama did when he took office after the illegal wars predicated on lies by the Bush administration, he will seem weak in everyone’s eyes – not just to Progressives, but also Conservatives who are accustomed to seeing Democrats fold at the slightest challenge. That’s one reason they can’t bring themselves to vote Blue despite an economic agenda that would benefit them more.
If he goes all-in on convicting Trump and making it impossible for him to hold office again, he may not find many Republican allies across the aisle, who he sorely needs to pass his agenda in a 50-50 Senate.
The good news for Biden is that Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, who will go down in history for breaking the ultimate glass ceiling by becoming the first woman, Indian-American, and African-American to serve as VP, is that control of the Senate no longer belongs to Mitch McConnell whose obstruction and cynicism are well-documented.
At minimum, Democrats will be able to set the agenda and decide what the game is, even if their odds are just slightly better than even for getting it passed.
There is a wildcard though. What if the Senate, figuratively, treats Trump as the Roman Senate once did Julius Caesar, stabbing him, each getting in a jab or stab? What if his 2024 campaign ends this week at the hands of his would-be GOP primary contenders and Mitch McConnell who by now must recognize that they’ve already got all they could from Trump?
Afterall, he delivered them the Supreme Court and countless other judgeships, massive tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans, rolled back environmental protections, to name a few on their wish list. They may decide to keep the spoils and lose the man.
I wouldn’t count on that though. None of them have the guts to play the role of Brutus.
By all accounts none of them have yet to grow a spine, to show the necessary courage to put aside self-interest and do their duty. Lindsay Graham and Ted Cruz, Trump’s most high-profile Senate henchmen, are still out there spewing lies and rallying support for him.
So, Biden will need to try to have it both ways. He has to support the process without betting too much on it. He can’t even kibbitz in the game like a Bond girl. He has to play the role of the fair dealer who quietly hopes the house will win this time.
Re-Published in English with Permission from Zing News Vietnam