What you need to know:
- In my nearly 40 years in the United States, I had never seen such a psychotic, megalomaniacal, and sociopathic leader atop the world’s most powerful democracy.
- Fittingly, he is going down in flames. Regrettably, he’s done enormous damage to democratic institutions and norms.
The US Capitol houses the first branch of government – the United States Congress – the most important symbol of democracy around the globe. It’s the seat of the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The voice of the people speaks from that dome. Ironically, President Donald Trump – the symbol of American sovereignty – fomented and led an insurrection against the Capitol this past week.
I’ve written that in my nearly 40 years in the United States, I had never seen such a psychotic, megalomaniacal, and sociopathic leader atop the world’s most powerful democracy. Many have predicted it would not end well. Fittingly, he is going down in flames. Regrettably, he’s done enormous damage to democratic institutions and norms.
Mr Trump is both anti-American and un-American. His policies and pronouncements over the past four years have shown his slavishness to Russia’s Vladimir Putin. He’s been Mr Putin’s puppet, as his 2016 Democratic presidential opponent Secretary Hillary Clinton, famously opined.
Frankly, I won’t be surprised if it comes out in future that Mr Trump was a Russian plant in the White House. That’s not all. Mr Trump took a machete to every key democratic institution in the United States. He ridiculed the courts. He undermined the Department of Justice. He gave cover and pardons to the most despicable criminals. He attacked Congress. He called the press the “enemy of the people”. He emasculated the administrative state. He reversed environmental protections.
Mr Trump is the textbook definition of a white supremacist. Long before he ran for public office in 2015, Mr Trump was a well-known racist bigot in New York. A real estate mogul, he deliberately refused to rent apartments to Black people. The Department of Justice forced him to settle an anti-discrimination suit.
When the rape of a white female jogger was committed in Central Park, Mr Trump took out an ad advocating the death penalty for the so-called Central Park Five, a group of young men of colour who were wrongfully convicted and spent six to 13 years in jail. They were only exonerated after the confession of a serial rapist.
He’s been a tax cheat all his life.
Throughout his campaign and his tenure as President, Mr Trump has courted the support of white racists, anti-Semites and all sorts of bigots. Unfortunately, there is a large demographic of such vile characters within the electorate. Many of them view Mr Trump as a white messiah. And he’s never disappointed them. When neo-Nazis, KKK and Alt-Right groups wreaked violence in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, Mr Trump called them “fine people”.
Muslim travel ban
In 2015, he called Mexicans rapists and drug addicts. He dubbed Haiti and African countries “shitholes”. He bragged about molesting women by grabbing their genitalia. He imposed a Muslim travel ban to America. He separated refugee children from their parents and caged them on the Mexican border.
On January 6, Mr Trump held a rally of his white supporters at the Ellipse of the White House. The rally was held as Congress was sitting to certify the election of President-elect Joe Biden, who defeated Mr Trump by a wide margin in the Electoral College and over 7 million popular votes.
Mr Trump, who has never conceded the drubbing by Mr Biden, launched quixotic attempts to overturn the election. He filed over 60 frivolous lawsuits to challenge the results. He lost every single one of them.
His last hope was to stop Congress from certifying Mr Biden’s win. That’s why he told his supporters at the rally to “march” on the Capitol and stop the certification.
Scenes of Armageddon unfolded on TV screens as the white terrorist mobs stormed and desecrated the Capitol.
Vice-President Mike Pence, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Grassley, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate – the three top officials in the line of presidential succession – were quickly evacuated. The terrorists would likely have killed them, decapitating the American state. Five people were killed in the melee, including a police officer. There was widespread damage.
Strangely, few arrests were made until days later. There’s video evidence that some police officers were complicit. Hours later, Congress returned and certified the election. Mr Trump told the terrorists he “loved them”. The terrorists would’ve been shot on sight if they had been Black.
Mr Trump has blood on his hands. He committed sedition by leading an attempted coup. We must disabuse a certain white demographic that it must always rule, even when their man has lost fair and square.
There will be accounting and reckoning for the security failures at the Capitol. It’s sad the Capitol, a citadel of democracy, will now become a fortress not easily accessible to citizens and visitors.
Mr Trump will become the first President to be impeached twice, unless he resigns. Then Americans must fully combat white supremacy, the biggest threat to democracy, to make sure “government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish on earth”.
Makau Mutua is SUNY Distinguished Professor and Margaret W. Wong Professor at Buffalo Law School. He’s Chair of KHRC. @makaumutua.