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Yesterday night, the United States Senate in a rare bi-partisan move, unanimously approved the congressional gold medal for U.S. Capitol police officer, Eugene Goodman. The black policeman was honored for his bravery in saving members of Congress from the mob during the Trump insurrection that engulfed the U.S. Capitol in Washington DC on January 6, 2021.
All the 100 United States senators and the nation’s then vice president, Mike Pence, were just a few minutes away from unprecedented danger as the mob approached. It was the quick thinking of Mr. Goodman who risked his life and tricked the mob to go in a wrong direction while the vice president and the senators fled to a safe location, that spared America unspeakable disaster. At the top of their voices, the wild mob chanted, “Hang Mike Pence! Hang Mike Pence!!” To show that they meant business, they set up the hangman’s gallows with a noose at the Capitol, ostensibly to hang their vice president.
You may ask: what did Vice President Pence do wrong? After losing 61 cases in court, President Donald Trump asked Mr. Pence who under the US constitution is the president of the senate, to help him steal the presidential election he lost to Joe Biden by more than seven million votes. Mr. Trump was desperate to remain president and continue to ride on “Airforce 1”, the presidential jet.
The usually loyal Mr. Pence was insistent he could not fulfill Mr. Trump’s wishes. Hell has no fury than a Donald Trump scorned. Then Donald summoned many thousands of his die-hard fanatical supporters from around the country, told them a big lie that the election had been stolen from him, charged them up to frenzy and sent them on a mission to hunt down Pence and the senators and let them know that nobody double crosses Donald Trump without consequences.
For much of the week, the dirty linens of Donald J. Trump, the only US President to have been impeached two times, were washed on live television for people form Lagos to London, Lusaka to Laos, to see. And believe me, many watched. Also broadcast to the world in the second Donald Trump impeachment trial drama series were the crazy contradictions of the American political system.
Fmr. President Donald J. Trump
Before Donald Trump became President, America was seen as the bastion of democracy and the moral compass of the world promoting truth and human rights and fighting autocratic regimes, evil, hunger and disease across the world. We all looked up to America to show us the way. America was the leader of the free world and much of the world went where America pointed.
I have followed the crazy siege on the Capitol, the Joe Biden inauguration and the Impeachment drama from Maryland, just about 45 minutes from the US capital. While the snow falls practically every day and everywhere is white, the mood is dark for most Americans.
Donald Trump may have been forced in disgrace to vacate the Whitehouse after all his shenanigans but the tragedy of his presidency is everywhere. The country is steadily marching towards half a million citizens dead from the corona virus because an incompetent president hid the truth from his people and from himself and wished that the virus would just disappear. A good chunk of the American population remains unemployed and the average American who used to walk around with a bounce and a lot of swagger has his head bowed. America’s under belly has been seen by the whole world and it has not looked pretty. Donald Trump who boasted he would make America great again may have made America the joke of the world.
The lead House impeachment manager against Donald Trump, Jamie Raskin, a constitutional lawyer from Maryland, is a top-notch advocate. He has in his team eight other brilliant lawyers including two incredibly articulate African Americans: Stacey Plaskett representing Virgin Islands and Joe Neguse of Colorado whose father immigrated to the US from Eritrea.
Mr. Raskin and his team have made an unassailable case against Mr. Trump so that the American presidency does not witness his kind again. My view is that with their presentation, you have got to be blind not to see the facts and deaf not to hear the truth. Most analysts however believe that because of the great divide between the two main political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, it does not matter what case Mr. Raskin and his team makes, the 17 Republican votes in the senate needed to convict Mr. Trump will not be found.
The gulf is now so wide between the two parties that if the Democrats see anything as white the Republicans will say that it is black and if the Republicans see it as white, the Democrats will insist that it is black. In four years, Donald Trump has pocketed the Republican party. With his millions of MAGA worshipers, practically everyone else in the party is scared of him and very few have the liver to vote against him. The big division in the political parties has created a big disunity in America with little consensus on anything.
Joe Biden has a big Job on his hands. The cracks in the nation are mighty. The institutions are under stress and the mistrust sizeable. I think he has started well but the challenge is massive.
I hope the world has learnt a critical lesson from the American experience: to be weary of demagogues. I have said it before that the skills required to build the Trump Tower are different from the skills required to lead a free people in a democracy. The profit motive is driven by extreme self-centeredness, the kind that the Donald has in abundance. To lead a free people, you need to have extreme selflessness, the kind that Nelson Mandela had in abundance and which Donald Trump cannot understand. Does Joe Biden have those skills? We will soon find out… When the impeachment is over.
See you next week.