Yesterday’s Follies at the US Capitol Confirm Everything We Suspected
Like a deranged Pentecostal preacher foretelling the Rapture, I’ve predicted the American End Times in writing for years. But when I saw it happening yesterday, January 6, the day of the Epiphany, in real time and living color, I had to rub my eyes. Is this it? Yes, it seems it was and, screened by the familiar It-can’t-happen-here myth, nobody in America’s high-tech, high-security government had thought to provide a proper security detail for the United States Senate. But why should they have thought of it? What happened at the Capitol yesterday was unthinkable.
January 6, 2020, is a day that will live in infamy, the day that marked the before and after of the inviolability of the universally-revered American democracy. It can happen there, and did. In all fairness, a few people on the ragged edges of American journalism saw it coming and warned the country repeatedly, but they were preaching to the choir. The rest of the distracted, largely-unlettered, exceptionally-patriotic country considered them cranks at best, socialists at worst. These thinkers on the margins are thoughtful, concerned, well-educated citizens of conscience who have been rowing upstream in the American river of hypocrisy and re-engineered truth for decades. Today–the day after–people like Noam Chomsky, Chris Hedges, Paul Jay, Amy Goodman, and a few others, can hold their heads high. They did their best to prevent America’s ongoing democratic debacle.
Who’s to Blame?
There will be a problem of assigning responsibility. Some people will try to pin it on the small army of decerebrated rednecks that assaulted the Capitol building–and not only the building; the United States Senate was in session. But they have neither the wit nor the comprehension to orchestrate the genial sucker punch that connected with the heart of American democracy. That required a shrewder, more experienced Redneck in Chief, lurking like Lazarus at the threshold of his sepulchre waiting to be brought back from the dead. Will he make it back. It’s the USA. Anything can happen.
This is not to say that we did not see any miracles yesterday. We saw Mitch McConnell metamorphose from a corporate lackey and consummate legislative manipulator into a paladin of modern democracy. All is forgotten, including his decades-long personal blockade of any form of progressive legislation, down to an emergency survival fund that would have permitted desperate Americans to feed their families and pay last month’s rent. He no longer recalls the four years he spent as Donald Trump’s slavering sycophant, enthusiastically girding the President’s loins against all forms of reason or decency. He is now suddenly the one who saved America from perishing at the hands of a sociopathic President. The rancid old pol saw an opportunity in the siege of the Capitol and hitched his wagon to that star. The Senate Majority Leader is back. Thank God.
What Can We Expect of What’s Left of America
Now is when it gets interesting. The colorful tribe of American überpatriots has had its first taste of live action and it didn’t work out too badly. A few of the duller ones were arrested and four people were killed but, aside from that, it was quite a successful operation. The front doors of the Capitol were breached, the security guards were intimidated into inaction, the attackers took over the Senate chamber and held it while the senators fled. When the bold boys had made their point they left at leisure. The majority of them didn’t even have their names taken down. President Trump told them he loved them. Yes, quite a successful operation. It should embolden them to come back soon.
Their greatest achievement was to dismantle any semblance of American credibility across the world. Absolutely everybody was watching, from the humblest rickshaw driver to every head of government. Few of those who saw the show will ever be tempted to take the US seriously again. The bubble has burst in a dramatic manner. After more than 200 years of cultivating the myth of heroic America, winner two world wars, savior of the world from communism, mother of moon walkers and creator of the Big Mac, the whole edifice was taken down by an unarmed group of mentally-disadvantaged role players. That motley crew achieved in a couple of hours what the Iroquois, the Sioux, the British, the Russians and the Guatemaltecos had not managed in two centuries: to take a once-great country from world dominatrix to laughing stock in the time it takes Kim Kardashian to apply her makeup.
As for America’s adversaries around the world, all they have to do for now is to stand back and let it happen. “But in a couple of weeks everything will be different,” you say. “There will be a new President.” No doubt things will be different, but will they be different enough to make a difference? Is Joe Biden the dynamic, charismatic leader the Americans need to snap them out of the denial mode that is their default setting whenever they fail?
President Trump and his comical minions are America’s first deniers, having convinced themselves that the fearless leader did not lose the election. Though it’s now amply clear that he did, he may have won something equally important. Like a magician who has mastered misdirection Trump has distracted the country’s attention from what is undeniably his gravest offense, the mismanagement of the coronavirus pandemic to the tune of some 330,000 American dead. This alone is enough–in a country of equal justice for all its citizens–to convict him of criminal negligence and sentence him to a hefty prison term. Will that happen? It would in a proper country.