DEMOCRACY is fragile, lamented Joe Biden who is still several nervous days away from inauguration. It’s not clear yet if the Capitol Hill rampage was a serious coup attempt or a shambolic, if bloody, circus, but this political shambles was a long time in the making. It goes way back beyond Trump’s petulant charge that he was robbed of re-election. In 2004, The New York Times reporter Ron Suskind interviewed high figures in the George W. Bush White House. A year before, most well-educated people believed, or had swallowed doubts about, the accusation that rabid Saddam Hussein possessed nuclear missiles that were ready to rain anywhere that annoyed him. UK prime minister Tony Blair egged things on, claiming an Iraqi missile could strike Britain in 48 minutes flat, while his intelligence officials played along or were forced to keep mum. Iraq was doomed on the basis of cherry-picked information.
In this cultivated atmosphere of fear, an exultant official, believed to be Bush’s aide Karl Rove, told Suskind that ‘we’ in the White House ‘create our own reality’ now. The rest must stand in awe and behold the realities ‘we’ make and ‘you will be left to study what we do’. What everyone actually was studying were smug political bullies in action, a phenomenon which preceded Trump by a long chalk. The Iraq war, alas, did not work out as these clairvoyant imperialists hoped, but, on the bright side, none ever answered or even apologised for the war and all its costs. They generated torrents of self-serving deceit and got what they wanted in 2003, which was US troops storming Baghdad and, in Trump’s case today, red-hatted, flag-waving zealots and fools storming the Capitol building, convinced that they were preserving democracy.
A bloodbath was precisely what they wanted.
Flash backward further to the 2000 election when, during a crucial juncture in the recount of Bush vs Gore, the ‘Brooks Brothers riot’ in Miami-Dade County occurred in which Republican Party officials shut down a recount that was going the Democrats’ way. The break-in enabled Bush to take the presidency, with a little help later from a friendly supreme court. One reckons that the right-wing militia figures in the violent forefront of the invasion of the Capitol had exactly that same scenario in mind in their effort to shut down certification of Biden’s victory, which in this case could not have succeeded.
We heartily agree that had the unruly crowd in Washington been a Black Lives Matter or other left-leaning group the security services would have picked off the intruders before they reached the entrance. A bloodbath was precisely what some loonies sought in order to generate ‘martyrs’. So we are glad the authorities treated them, for the most part, with a restraint that was almost touching, as if they were wayward brothers and sisters.
The last time one of us joined an anti-war demonstration during the Vietnam War, the police joyously clubbed and tear-gassed indiscriminately and arrested 13,000 degenerate longhairs. What the police saw the other day were their own kind, and so many were complicit, taking selfies with invaders, removing barricades, and ignoring the rioters’ antics. There were dress rehearsals in Wisconsin and Michigan, where armed militia earlier swaggered openly in public spaces and were unmolested.
The frothing Trumpist mob believed that the dedicated corporate servant Joe Biden is a far-left socialist, which in their eyes means not universal health care, free education, good jobs, improved environment and better social security benefits but a tyrannical state run by alien creatures who might as well have descended from outer space. Anti-Semitism, of which not a few ardent fans were there in the crowd, aptly was called the ‘socialism of fools’, of those searching for an easy target to blame for all their woes.
It costs many billions in media propaganda to miseducate people as thoroughly as these deluded people are, and 43 per cent of Republicans approved of them too. One can appreciate the high stakes. What would happen if they realised that con man Trump, and his corporate cronies, was not their good buddy? That instead they were chief reasons for manufacturing jobs being exported, wages frozen or cut, benefits diminished, work hours extended, pensions made flimsier, healthcare more expensive, and the cost of a house for their children prohibitive unless their parents leave one to them?
After the Georgia election, whose election of two Democrats likely enflamed the rioters even more, Joe Biden now has a Democratic-controlled Senate and Congress with which to work out a recovery plan. If he fails, his advantage will last as long as Obama’s did. Two years. Then comes a smarter, slicker version of Trump, if not the oaf himself again. So why would anyone bother with another coup attempt?
The writers are the authors of No Clean Hands, Parables of Permanent War and other books.
Published in Dawn, January 12th, 2021