American democracy is tenacious, vibrant, and alive

Friday, 15 January 2021 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The recent past is proof positive of the strength and robustness of the US democracy and its institutions. It rebuffed the full force of President Trump and his enormous social and political strength

For many, events in the US since Trump took office, and especially since the US election on 3 November, stand as proof that the American model of democracy and its institutions are straw creatures that warrant only shame and embarrassment. These beliefs have only gained credence since the storming of the US capital on 6 January Wednesday. 

Throughout the world, political and social commentators alike took the opportunity to deride the US model of democracy using the incidents of the recent past as a cudgel to get their own back at US institutions and leaders; who have lectured them, every so admonishingly, about democracy in the past. 

However, the recent past is proof positive of the strength and robustness of the US democracy and its institutions. It had rebuffed the full force of President Trump and his enormous social and political strength. No claim is made here to the effect that all US citizens are faithful subscribers to the tenets of democracy. Far from it. This is about US democratic institutions that withstood sustained gale force winds as President Trump huffed and puffed for four plus years and emerged stronger, à la Nietzsche, for having faced and survived the hurricane. There was always method in Trump’s madness. Early on, even before he was elected, he had recognised the potential power of the collective fringe; the far right, the white nationalists, the anarchists, the conspiracy theorists, and others of the ilk. He created the ‘Birther’ movement out of whole cloth to add to the mix. 

While all other ‘respectable’ politicians hesitated to be associated with those on the extreme edge of social and political issues, Trump had, without shame or hesitation pandered to them. He fuelled and stoked their dwindling fires long before Charlottesville. While those on the periphery of mainstream, had different ideological foundations and were often at odds with each other, he united them in MAGA country and conditioned them to heed and obey his commands.   

Backed by close to 88 million twitter followers, ‘covfefe’ notwithstanding, he ‘groomed’ the republican leadership in Congress to be complicit in his rantings and ravings. Those who were not willing to parrot his thoughts, had to mute themselves to avoid his wrath and ridicule. He was the American president who had, perhaps for the first time, made the term ‘bully pulpit’ word perfect. He had no hesitation in demonising anybody who did not bend before him. 

In the two months since the November election, without shame or hesitation, he attempted to force, elected officers, and US institutions to kneel in front of him. He did not hesitate to make in-person phone calls to elected officials including the Republican Secretary of State of Georgia demanding ‘to find 11,780 votes’ only to be told that he had wrong data. 

He filed more than 60 cases at courts, without cause or evidence, some presided over judges appointed by him and found them deaf to his unwarranted, unfounded claims. His submission to the Supreme Court, which by then included a majority of republican oriented judges, including three appointed by him, was rejected at the entrance. 

Not willing to accept such wholesale defeat, he called for his hounds and bayed for blood at the Save America Rally’. After promising that he will join them he unleashed their mindless rage – a rage that he had stoked and brought to boiling point, on the American Congress. 

Yet American democracy stood tall. Elected officials from red and blue states certified the results first in their home states and later through the Electoral College. Even after being forced to evacuate and hide when the hounds from hell descended and rampaged through the hall of the Capital, Congress worked through the night and certified the results at 3:30 in the morning. To repeat, this commentary is not about claiming that US citizens were exemplary in any manner. This is about the fact that American democratic institutions stood tall and withstood the attack on the bastions of their democracy, even while Trump, his family, his bloodhounds and his enablers tried so hard to destroy them.  

Let us reflect. Would institutions from whence we call home be able to withstand political gale force winds for so long? Would our elected officials have had the backbone to stand firm even while a bullying and shameless President made personal phone calls to just find enough votes – votes that would favour the very party who elected those officials? Would our courts have had the independence to stand tall even while the political inclination of the party who appointed them to their posts stood to lose the election? Let us be honest with ourselves. I for one have to admit that events of the recent past have shown us to be wanting. 

Is the attack on the fundamentals of US democratic institutions over? All indications and warnings from law enforcement indicate it is not. Much drama remains to be played out. But this commentator is confident and convinced that US democracy will prevail, and that its institutions will emerge all the more stronger. 

Much could be written about the people who acted so embarrassingly, so brazenly and so stupidly. But it is because of the combination of the power and the sustained duration of the gale force winds that attempted to wreck the citadel of American democracy, that we are able to claim, unequivocally, that events of the recent past is irrefutable proof that the model of American democracy and its institutions are robust, strong and very much alive.


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