The season finale of America is screening live right now, and boy is it wild. The script writers have clearly been taking some serious hallucinogenic to pack in so much drama and downright craziness into just one day. My only criticism is that it’s just a little unrealistic…
So here’s what’s going on at the moment in what we will now only ironically call the ‘home of democracy’…
Traditionally a president who loses an election at this point gracefully starts packing their desk drawers into brown cardboard boxes...
‘Previously, on America…’
Even if you’re not following the news, you’ll know that President Donald J Trump lost the November election to Joseph R Biden (middle name Robinette, fun fact). In fact he lost by a landslide, with over seven million more votes cast for Biden than Trump and six key states (Pennsylvania, Arizona, Georgia, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nevada) flipping from voting for Trump’s Republicans to Biden’s Democrats.
Traditionally a president who loses an election at this point gracefully starts packing their desk drawers into brown cardboard boxes, but instead Mr Trump did an accurate impression of a seven year old losing a game of Monopoly and attempted the legal equivalent of throwing the board and all the pieces onto the floor and demanding a re-do.
Over sixty failed lawsuits later and Trump’s been rejected by more courts than they’ve got at Wimbledon. Including by judges appointed by him, including by the Supreme Court which is notably Trump-friendly. His unsubstantiated claims of widespread election fraud, strangely limited only to the key states that turned Blue (Democratic) from Red (Republican), has been debunked by those states themselves, by Republican election officials and by Republican state legislators. It’s the definitive ‘laughed out of court’ case.
But it hasn’t stopped Trump holding super-spreader rallies making his fake claims, from posting on social media and using his office to muddy the electoral waters. And all this matters because Biden doesn’t officially become President until January 20th.
Right, so that brings us more-or-less up to date.
The forgotten pandemic
Yesterday there were three other massive stories that all would’ve been top of the news bill if it wasn’t for what happened. The pandemic, the Georgia run-off and the certification of Biden as President. We’ll get round to the others, but it’s worth putting everything in context; yesterday the US recorded it’s worst coronavirus stats ever.
Over 3,700 people died and a record number were admitted into hospital yesterday. It’s the issue that probably most led to Trump’s November defeat and with the vaccination roll out stalled and almost no central government action taken to mitigate the spread of the virus, it’s really bleak.
Anyway, 500 words in, let’s actually talk about what happened…
Donald Trump rallied his troops…
January 6th was always going to be a crucial date, because this is the last day when there can be any doubt whatsoever about who the next President of the United States will be. This is because it’s the day that the American parliament, Congress, ‘certifies’ the results from each state. By a curious convention the person responsible for overseeing that process is the President of the Senate, who is also the Vice President. Mike Pence.
So, having failed in the courts, and having failed to persuade individual state legislatures to overturn the results (see the Washington Post story just this weekend of a call Trump made to Georgia officials asking them to ‘find 11, 780 votes’), it came down to yesterday, and an attempt to get Mike Pence to overturn the results or Congress to overturn the democratic will of the people. A scheme some Senators, like Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, were surprisingly cool with.
But with Pence refusing to be drawn into a plot to effectively ‘steal’ the election it was clear that some extra prodding was required. And what better way to whip up a mob? It’s tried and tested the third world over.
And so Trump called a rally, and tens of thousands of his adoring fans, complete with questionable facial hair, Confederate flags and pipe bombs, to hear what he had to say.
Which, as per, was a concocted story of how he (and they) were robbed and inciting them to march on the Capitol Building, where the election results were being certified…
He Marched Them Up To The Top Of The Hill…
Declaring that he’d march with them (obviously he didn’t) Trump effectively bade his blessing and off they went to the nation’s parliament.
Unlike when Black Lives Matter marched in Washington back in February (when Trump urged ‘law and order’) the police weren’t prepared and were overwhelmed as the mob surged into the heart of American democracy.
While parliamentarians were rushed to safety and the certification postponed rioters ran amok, with one being shot by law enforcement and another three dying from ‘medical causes’.
…And he didn’t really march them down again
Nearly President Biden then went on telly to urge Nearly Not President Trump to stand down his mob and in response Trump went onto social media to release a video telling his supporters that he loves them, which wasn’t quite the vibe the public or even most Republicans were hoping for.
But it did earn him a ban from most social media firms. At flipping last! Finally we can go a day or two without a slew of headlines based on his online musings.
Finally, by late evening UK time, the Capitol was declared ‘secure’ as Washington DC declared a 6pm curfew and the National Guard finally arrived to help the overwhelmed police.
Trump’s mob had looted senators’ offices, the legislative chambers and caused widespread damage, but with them gone the work of Congress could continue.
Incredibly a number of senators continued to try and overturn the will of the people but the result was never in doubt and Joe Biden was finally certified as the next President of the United States.
With no tricks left up his sleeve, and facing a huge backlash from his own side not to mention the international community, President Trump agreed to a peaceful transition of power. While still falsely asserting he’d been done over.
And there we have it. That’s what happened yesterday.
And what next?
President Trump will leave office at midday January 20th, and that’s it. Joe Biden becomes President and the world returns to whatever ‘normal’ now is.
Another thing that happened yesterday, which should have been the main news of the day, was the result of the Senate run-off election in Georgia. Both Trump supporting Republican candidates were deftly beaten by Democrats in this traditionally Red state. Further proof that Trump’s Make America Great Again rule is both toxic and coming to an end.
But it really is big news because this gives Joe Biden control of the Senate. Which means that Trump has, since 2016, lost control of the House of Representatives, the White House and the Senate, which means that Joe Biden holds all the cards going forwards.