Tuesday August 03, 2021

America may not be the same after Trump is gone

Published : 16 Jan 2021, 11:33

Updated : 22 Apr 2021, 11:23

  By Professor Abdul Mannan

The 45th President of the United States will be out of office on Wednesday, 20th January after Joe Biden takes over as the 46th President. Unlike most of his predecessors Trump will be leaving behind a battered, bruised and divided America, something similar to pre-Lincoln era when America was divided between the whites and blacks, the later known as Negroes or Nigers. These blacks were free people who lived in Africa till the English slave traders brought them forcefully to their colony America to be sold as plantation workers. Though President Abraham Lincoln abolished slavery in 1865, the country plunged into a Civil War and America wasvirtually divided and seven states of the South that insisted slavery should stay. These States seceded in 1960, even before the Abraham Lincoln was elected to the presidency. Later four more States joined and these eleven States came to be known as Confederate States or Confederacy and had their own President named Jefferson Davis and Vice President Alexander H Stephens. The breakaway states soon acquired their own symbols of sovereignty, such as its own stamps and flag known as Stars and Bars. It raised its own army that fought in the American Civil War. Finally they lost and United States regained its character as a Union till the takeover of Donald Trump as the President in 2016. When Trump backed thugs stormed the US Federal Capitol Building on last 6 January, there were many who carried the Confederacy flag inside the Capitol, chanting pro-racist slogans and reiterating Trump’s slogan ‘America First’ virtually meaning American belongs to whites and it should again be returned to the whites. He began his inauguration speech four years back by repeating this xenophobic statement.

Whatever was left of the outgoing US president was demolished on 6th January when the House of Representative met on that day in the Capitol Building (parliament building) to officially ratify the presidential results of last November election. It was a mere formality. As a convention Trump’s Vice President Mike Pence was presiding. A little further away on the lawns of the White House gathered the supporters of Trump, most of them supremacist and Trump addressed them saying that the election was stolen from him. Actually he was the winner. In a preposterous move he ordered these few thousand followers to march towards the Capitol to stop the counting, something that has never happened in two hundred years of US history. He was even so desperate that he declared that he will be with them. His incitement was unprecedented even for a third grade politician. While the counting was on inside the Capitol the Trump supporters brandishing all sorts of racist symbols, including the Confederacy flag and Nazi Tea Shirts, some carrying lethal weapons and Confederacy flag stormed the Capitol taking control of the entire building. It was just a horrific moment and while the mob ransacked the building the members of the House had to take shelter under the chairs and tables and in washrooms. The Vice President and the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were ushered out of the building by the secret service for their safety. There could have been a bloody massacre on that day. As expected the House proceedings were adjourned. On that day six people lost their lives in this catastrophic situation. One was a police officer. By any standard this was a crime of highest order and instigated by no less than the US President himself.

The counting resumed the following day while the police from the neighbouring cities and National Guards secured the Capitol Building perimeters. Finally all efforts of Trump to usurp the presidency have failed and the sensible people in US and across the world expressed their sigh of relief. Trump has not only tarnished the American system for good, he has even virtually dismantled his own party though many Republicans still believe in democratic norms and the rule of law, the centrality of truth and ten Republicans even voted to impeach Donald Trump when the three step impeachment proceedings began at the federal level. The impeachment process concluded on last Wednesday where the House voted 232 to 197 to impeach President Trump, an unprecedented second time, of charge of “inciting violence” against the US government. Trump is the third President to be impeached in US history. The first one was Andrew Johnson (1868), while Bill Clinton was impeached in 1992. Trump was first impeached in 2019 and finally while his presidency was coming to an end in 2021.

As the White House prepares for the inauguration on 20th January, Trump in another unprecedented move announced that he will not remain present on the day Joe Biden and Kamala Harris take oath. He still believes that he is the person who should have been taking the oath and not Joe Biden. In another terrifying development, the FBI announced that according to intelligence sources Trumpists (new word coined to mean blind Trump supporters) may create a state of anarchy in 50 state Capitols across the country between 16th to 20th January. As a precautionary measure 20 thousand members of National Guards have been posted in Washington DC and around the Capitol building. Emergency has in the meantime been declared in the DC area and barricades are in place in the city. It seems US is at war with itself. Most Americans have heard or seen on TV about mobocracy in other countries, mostly in Asia or Latin America or Central Asia, but never in their wildest dreams did they ever think someday it will be enacted right in the middle of the US Capital, Washington DC. Many critiques say since the Second World War successive US governments have been cause of political unrests and military coups in many countries and now they have one of their own.

In course of time Donald Trump’s name will be forgotten but his legacy will continue to haunt the Americans for years to come. To be impeached twice during ones presidency is a record that will perhaps remain unblemished for years to come but whether America will have another president to match Donald Trump is something the world will wait to learn about. To be impeached means Trump has been found guilty of ‘inciting violence’ by the House of Representative. The Senate can constitutionally hold an impeachment trial after Trump leaves office which seems unlikely before his term ends next Wednesday. Laurence H Tribe, Professor Emeritus at Harvard Law School and most recently the co-author of “To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment” wrote in the Washington Post on 13th January “that (leaving the presidency) does not require the end of proceedings against him. The Senate retains the constitutional authority - indeed, the constitutional duty - to conduct an impeachment trial against the soon-to-be former president.” The senate can, if it desires debar Trump from holding any public office in future. If done, this will close all doors for Trump to run for Presidency in 2024 which many of his staunch supporters would like to see happening.

The London based weekly, the Economist (January 9th-15th) edition in its lead commentary title ‘Trump Legacy’ wrote ‘Four years ago Donald Trump stood in the front of the Capitol building to be sworn into office and promised to end “American carnage”. His term is concluding with a sitting president urging a mob to march on Congress - and then praising it after it had resorted to violence. Be in no doubt that Mr. Trump is the author of this lethal attack on the heart of American democracy. His lies for grievance, his disregard for the constitution focused it on Congress and his demagoguery lit the fuse.’

Perhaps for the time being the legacy created by great American Presidents like George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Franklin Roosevelt have survived. But after Trump leaves office on Wednesday, America may not be the same again. So far only the national institutions have stood tall and protected the country from a total melt down. What will happen in future only future can tell.

Notes: The writer is a former Chairman of University Grants Commission of Bangladesh and a former Vice-Chancellor, University of Chittagong, Bangladesh.