With every tweet about invalid ballots, with every spurned opportunity to recognise the election results, with every hopeless lawsuit filed, and with every speech claiming his landslide election victory was stolen by fraud, Trump must answer for the shocking actions of his supporters that were let loose in Washington DC yesterday.
It will take time to uncover whether this flash mob was planned in advance or was nothing more than Trump supporters finally goaded to breaking point by yet another unfounded assertion that the presidential election was rigged. It’s difficult to believe the latter: some of the mob wore body armour and carried weapons. You can see the trigger: Trump has been whining about voting fraud – without providing any evidence, as his failed lawsuits attest – since before the election even started, and if your man says democracy has failed, then contempt for the symbols, buildings and processes of democracy surely follows.
The man is supposed to be the head of his state (in practical terms, the equivalent of the UK’s Queen): is that how we expect heads of state to behave? To call for people to go to their homes while in the same breath decrying again about how the election was stolen? Do we now expect to see Trump and his family speed in limousines to the airport to flee the country with what valuables they can stuff in their suitcases before the incoming Government arrests them? As former President George W said, this is sickening and more reminiscent of Banana Republics than of a bastion of democracy.
Around the world, political leaders expressed their outrage and condemnation of the actions of this mob. Trump’s twitter account has been frozen to prevent him piling more fuel on the fire, with Facebook and Instagram following suit amid threats of permanent suspension.
The aftermath of this will be critical. Whipped into a frenzy, you now have an active and angry section of the US population who have decided that democracy is dead. How will this contempt extend to other day-to-day democratic and federal processes?