As a young boy I used to think that the US was the fountain of democracy, before I found out the truth. Is the real US now revealing itself? I wrote some time ago that Trump was at least forcing the US to understand who it really was. But wasn’t the truth always there? For historian, Edmund Morgan the American Revolution was a struggle for office and power between members of an upper class – “the new against the established.” Another warned that, “We the people of the US” did not refer to Indians, blacks, women, or even white servants. But the genius that was America got us to believe otherwise. Trump is laying it all bare. His appeal to a large number of Americans is not about the man himself but the fact that he was voicing what they felt.
Others have since come out and America is at war with itself.
Trump rallied his civilian ‘troops’ when he declared that the election was stolen from him. Even investigations led by his own GOP officials found no evidence to support that. Matters that reached the Court were treated as ones best fit for humour. He believed that Mike Pence, his Vice President, had the power to overturn the elections and keep him in Office. He tried to get election officials to find votes for him. He wanted the Department of Justice to seize voting machines before votes could have been counted in some ‘swing’ states. He took from the White House fifteen boxes of official material that should have been sent to the National Archives, some of them classified material. Before that he had destroyed some, even chewed on some it appeared!
But even more alarming, he was the architect of what was in fact an attempted coup to overturn the election and retain his presidency. That was the famous insurrection of January 6, the proceedings carried on television for all to see. Efforts in Congress to investigate the insurrection are being sabotaged by forces not only loyal to him but anti-democratic in nature. In all of this Trump has succeeded in taking full control of the Republican party. The actions on January 6 which led to deaths and to members of Congress having to take shelter are now regarded by some key members of his party as ‘legitimate political discourse’, a discourse that involved storming Congress, committing acts of violence, and taking control of offices. Apparently, a different kind of democracy.
So far so ‘good’! But it gets worse! A number of states, all Republican, have embarked on their own path to democracy. It involves making it harder for voters, mainly minorities, to vote. Remember it was not originally supposed to be for them! Voting hours are being shortened so it becomes difficult for persons to vote after work. In at least one case they have made it illegal to provide food or water to persons standing in line waiting to vote. Stricter voter ID requirements are put in place creating difficulties for Blacks and Indians who have less access to forms of identification that are acceptable. They have also reduced the number of early voting days and are putting restrictions on Sunday voting that appealed to Blacks who after church would go in groups to vote.
Efforts by Congress to pass voting laws that would override those restrictive measures are being subverted by Republican members particularly in the Senate where both parties are equally balanced. But much of this is not really about Trump. Republican officials aware of Trump’s hold on their base want to use that to ensure they could take control of Congress. Some are hoping that the relationship stops there. Others are in the wings waiting to take over by making the most ridiculous statements they
can, something that appeals to their base, a base that does not look beyond Fox news.
Should the Republicans take control of the Presidency and Congress, it would be interesting to see what happens! QAnon and other political conspiracy groups have joined forces. The Confederacy flags have been with them. But that is America! The Real America might then stand up!
Dr Adrian Fraser is a social commentator and historian