Those in New Zealand who have ever expressed admiration for Donald Trump or his political tactics should be ashamed of themselves. His most prominent Kiwi enabler, Chris Liddell, who pressed pause on the presidential transition back in November, should be among those who face consequences.
Make no mistake, what is happening in Washington DC has been more than four years in the making and Liddell and the rest of Trump's enablers knew what they were part of. Today's events are nothing less than an attempted coup by the President of the United States. With his inflammatory tweets and incendiary rant at his "Save America" rally this morning, the outgoing president deliberately incited a violent insurrection on the streets of Washington DC.
Worse, it has succeeded, at least temporarily. Trump's sedition has incited the storming and looting of the US Capitol, the evacuation of Vice President Mike Pence from the building and therefore the suspension of the process to confirm President-elect Joe Biden's election, and the drawing of firearms within the chambers of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The scenes, which have forced Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser to order a curfew, are reminiscent of a collapsing dictatorship and hitherto unimaginable in any contemporary first-world democracy, let alone in Ronald Reagan's "shining city upon a hill".
A violent confrontation will be necessary in the next couple of hours to restore order and allow Congress to carry out its lawful business today. Nothing less is necessary to maintain the remnants of American prestige and prevent its foreign and domestic enemies from taking advantage of the situation Trump is implicitly endorsing.
The problem is that, with the local police clearly overwhelmed, it is Trump himself who may be required to authorise the use of the National Guard to restore order.
If he will not do so, his Cabinet will need to meet urgently to remove him from office today and have Pence take the necessary steps to retake control of the Capitol and central Washington.
As the minutes tick by, it seems almost certain that step will be required. Why would Trump act against the very coup he instigated earlier this morning? And apart from anything else, he must surely know that what is occurring is his responsibility and that he and his cronies are in jeopardy of treason charges – which, in the United States, carries penalties up to and including capital punishment.
AdvertisementAdvertise with NZME.
- Matthew Hooton is an Auckland-based PR consultant.