“I’m not in Baghdad. I’m not in Kabul. I’m not in a dangerous situation overseas. We are in America.” That’s what Martha Raddatz had to say on ABC News shortly after the Capitol attack.
Americans are now coming to realise that their country has become a failed-state — or perhaps even worse. And all it took was four years of Donald Trump for it to be compared to war-torn nations where terrorists walk freely.
And frankly, that comes as no surprise considering what’s happened is textbook authoritarianism. I mean, America didn't want Trump in power, exercised its democratic right and voted him out, and he decided that he’d teach it a lesson in return.
It’s entitlement, arrogance and dictatorial. It’s what you would have expected of a country with a “stan” at the end. But no — this time, it’s happening in America.
And not because Trump felt this would work — no. Sure, the fascists who invaded the Capitol might have thought it would. But Trump knew he was down and out the moment his conservative court refused to stand by his lies.
This happened because he wanted revenge. He wanted America to pay, to suffer, to cry. He wanted to make the American people feel helpless; as if they were at his mercy. And the system they used to oust him? Democracy? He decided he’d snap it in half too.
Make no mistake — what you witnessed was a war — a war between Donald Trump and American democracy. And although the latter seems to have made it — just — it’s been left battered and bruised. Trump and his army have shattered America’s credibility as the “guardians of democracy.” They’ve made rogue nations around the world believe America is no better than them.
How? The fact that, unlike other dictators, Trump didn't use the police or the military to invade the Capitol. He used Americans — the average citizen, bearing arms, to break into the very symbol of American democracy. That — the people being mobilised like militias, all in order to subvert their own democracy, is what’s got the world thinking of America as a Third World country.
And you know why Trump was able to pull it off? Because he saw what the average American didn't — and then exploited it. He recognised democracies for what they were — vulnerable. He knew that it didn’t take entire armies to topple them. All you had to do was take them by surprise.
And now it seems as if he has no intentions of stopping.
In a speech delivered from the White House, shortly after the attack on the Capitol, Trump appeared to strictly denounce the attempted coup and said the perpetrators would “pay.” And just as one would be led to believe he was throwing in the towel, he showed his true colours when ended that speech by addressing his supporters and saying, “Our incredible journey is only just beginning.”
For anyone who cares about American democracy, those words, and the carnage they could cause, are nothing short of frightening. Because now — now those words mean more than a mere hint at a run in 2024. Those words represent chaos, violence and more coups.
Which leads us to this question — what’s next? Inauguration day? Because it’s not inconceivable. Tensions will be high, anger will be flowing and all Trumpists will have to do is pick up their weapons and walk out of their homes. After all, this will be the day their “chosen one” is formally thrown out of office. This will be the day when their dream for an America ruled by whites comes crashing to the ground. And the man taking the oath is the one they’re going to hold responsible.
And that leads us to another question — will they really stop once he’s inaugurated? If Trump’s words — and I want to place emphasis on “just beginning” — are to be believed, then are you looking at at least another four years of this? Will any court that threw out Trump’s legal challenges be safe? Will the Biden government have to take responsibility for guarding every single public official who dared to stand up to Trump?
Time will tell. And make no mistake — that statement in itself is frightening. Because America has arrived at a point where it can only sit back and wait — wait for when the Trumpists will raise hell next. It’s like America’s been taken hostage with its kidnapper's finger stationed on the trigger — agonisingly waiting for the moment it’s finally pulled.
And you know what makes this even worse? The fact that the people who assaulted American democracy don’t need Trump anymore. They realised that they are capable of causing chaos on their own. Sure, with Trump at the helm, organising “protests,” their attacks will be more coordinated. But taking Trump out of the equation doesn't mean that they stop. America will simply descend into instability with uncoordinated acts of violence happening across the country — little instances that, once taken together, send America into chaos.
This is the price America is having to pay for voting out a dictator.
But let’s be clear for a second — America’s not completely without fault. It sat back, relaxed and unbothered, as Trump ascended to the presidency in 2016. And it wasn't like Trump fundamentally changed who he was after becoming president. America knew what it was getting into. But it didn't care enough to vote against him.
And now they’re facing the consequences.
This isn’t to underscore the effort Americans made this time around — it’s to remind them why they got into this problem in the first place. Because what America is doing — or rather simply attempting to do — right now is damage control. It knows it’s going to take hits. It just wants to minimize the pain. That’s what voting Trump out has achieved. Because the punches will still come — he just won't have the machinery of the state to amplify their effect.
And I do mean that last bit. Because, and as I said after the Capitol attack, I had no doubt in my mind that the police was ordered to stand back by Trump. Why? Because I grew up under authoritarianism. This is exactly how dictators control law enforcement to get their dirty work done. But it seems as if I was mistaken — because the truth is even worse. As this video shows, far from merely standing down, an officer was actually inviting the Trumpists in.
Tell me the police can let an armed coup like that happen without presidential orders.
And you know what means? Donald Trump’s quest for revenge against the American electorate and their democracy has left America, in some respects, as a spitting image of Third World democracies — and in others, even worse.
The Capitol invasion, the complicity of the police, and the fact it was instigated and facilitated by the commander-in-chief has meant that the shroud of invincibility that once cloaked American democracy has been torn apart. It’s now worse than a failed state where armed police and militaries working for dictators subvert democracy. Because Americans picked up their arms and decided to do that job themselves.
And you know why that’s worse? Because military and police led coups can be stopped with a change in government. Those institutions can be reformed. But this? Unless the Biden administration starts a campaign to hold Trumpists accountable, how does any of this change? And even then, despite Biden’s best intentions, will white privilege get in the way? Let’s not forget America isn’t going to be magically reborn on the 20th. And as for reform? How do you implement reforms for a group that isn’t an institution but a band of lawless fascists? Do you even know how many of them are out there? How many, who were perhaps too scared before, but saw the wreckage at the Capitol and the lack of repercussions to follow, and became inspired?
And as bad as that already is, it’s not the only reason why the Trump army won’t stop. Because all this started with Trump losing the election and wanting revenge. But now that he’s lost, the attack on the Capitol has happened, is he going to want even more? Because he’s been banned from Facebook and Twitter. He’s being lambasted the world over — and rightfully so. But is that going to fuel his desire for more violence? Especially if he’s impeached? After all, isn’t their own ego what dictators value the most? And didn’t all this start because of his arrogance and sense of entitlement to rule anyways?
Trump was perhaps telling the truth when he said that their journey “was just beginning.”
But while he sets his sight on more violence, misinformation and unrest, America can start something too — a cleanup. It needs to, starting now, disown every pro-Trump congressional representative. And come the midterms, it needs to fire them. And then in 2024, it needs to stop either one of them or Trump from being able to get into the White House. And then it needs to do it all over again at the election after that.
Why? Why doesn't this end with Biden taking the oath? Because the effects of what Trump has instigated are not going to disappear overnight. The Trump Army will keep trying what it can, but America must respond to their every move with a clear and unanimous rejection of Trumpist politicians in Congress. I would have said that America must, ironically in the words of Trump himself, “drain the swamp” — but the truth is it’s way past that point now. American politics has become a safe haven for fascists and white supremacists. And the truth is, the only people who can send them packing are the ones who sent them there in the first place — you.
Because now there is no alternative. The future America faces otherwise is one of state-backed racism, lawlessness and violence.
So the most important question now is whether America will “wake up.” If the complacency of four years prior is anything to go by, America won’t get the job done. But the America of today is drastically different. It can now see its democracy being burned to the ground in front of its very eyes. And I do think they’ll do what they must to protect their democracy — or whatever barely functioning version Trump has left of it.