I am using a word we now associate with the eruption of our volcano, to try to make sense of the madness that has overtaken the “land of the free and home of the blessed”, so-called. The volcanologists are unsure if the effusive eruption will continue or move into an explosive state. So, it is with the US! The storming of Capitol Hill on January 6 is only the first of one of the battles of the Civil War, the main opponent being Democracy. The war will be played out on different fronts, some in Congress; others in states trying to restrict access to balloting for blacks and minorities.
The others will be staged, one never knows where, by ‘Proud Boys’, QAnon, white supremacists and other unclassified members of the Trump cult.
Over the last four years Trump was not only a ‘big liar’ but in my view certifiably mad. There was little that appeared normal about him. We might even want to question his humanity. He has gone from the White House, but is still high on the national agenda. I can only conclude that America is also mad. Well let me tread carefully here. Eighty-four million Americans voted for Biden, the largest number ever. But then 74 million voted for Trump. Amazingly after four years of madness he received 11 million more votes than in 2016.
That is one way of looking at it. What was there about Trump that endeared himself to 74 million voters, sane or otherwise. Someone referred to him as the “Useful Idiot” and there is sense in this in trying to understand the Trumpian phenomena. He launched his political career by trying to limit and force out immigrants from Central America. Central to this was building a wall that the Mexicans were to pay for. He started tariff wars with China arguing that China would pay. I was then sure he was mad, but the ‘birther’ movement’ pointed to blatant racism. Then I saw what was so appealing about him. He was prepared to make outrageous statements that others, even though sharing his views, were not prepared to make. He said things that many wanted to hear, but he was so incompetent and shallow that 80 million Americans rejected him.
That didn’t matter because he set about convincing the members of his cult that he had won and won overwhelmingly. With the help of some Republican fanatics and scumbags he set about overturning what the states had legally declared. When that was unlikely to change things, he set up the storming of the Capitol, some of his cult worshippers even threatened to kill the Vice-President. The first blow in the Civil War did not achieve what it was supposed to. This will however only push them to launch their assaults on different fronts, with their objective of keeping America ‘pure’ and white. Biden’s professed bi-partisan approach is doomed to failure unless the Republican moderates, if there is such a thing, recapture their party.
Imagine millions of Americans accepting the “Big lie”, as it is called, that Trump won the election overwhelmingly. But, after all, millions of Americans only look at FOX news. The American electorate is perhaps the most uninformed anywhere.
Some do not even know who is their governor! This country labels itself the ‘fountain of democracy’. The rest of the world is surely laughing at them as they see barricades around Capitol Hill to preserve their democracy. Can America with a straight face speak to any other country about democracy? Even within Congress democracy is undermined by filibusters, grandstanding by those there to serve their own self-interests. Josh Hawley stood up at the recent CPAC conference and bragged that he was the one who made an effort to overturn the electoral votes. With him is Ted Cruz, famous for deserting his people and seeking refuge in Mexico while they faced days without water or electricity. Then there is the masterpiece of double -talk, Moscow Mitch. Do not tell me there is not an element of madness in America and when you add that to its blatant racism then the Civil War will continue, effusive or explosive!
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian