Rashid A Mughal
WHAT the world witnessed live on media in Washington DC on 06 January 2021 was ample proof of how far a person can go to satisfy his personal and selfish designs and spread hatred, promote violence, create chaos and divides his own country on race, colour and false beliefs, at the cost of human lives and centuries old democratic system and institutions. Trump has proved what he is capable of doing to satisfy his ego and whims, though totally unrealistic, unethical, undemocratic and miles away from decency. He preached hatred throughout his four-year tenure and divided Americans deeply beyond the red line and pampered, supported and encouraged white supremacists and Ku Klux Klan. Unfortunately he found support in lower middle class, high school graduates and drop-outs and working class which he exploited to the full and turned a peace loving, tolerant and helping nation into a violent mob, images of which were visible in the carnage on Capitol Hill on 06 January 2021.
More alarming is his last message on Twitter in which he has exalted his base, declaring that “this is just the beginning.” Minutes before the mob ransacked the symbol of greatest democracy and free nation Capitol Hill, he instigated them in his hateful speech and asked them to show “force” and “be strong” as according to him showing weakness will not turn the election results in his favour. No wonder, there are calls for impeaching him again and increasing pressure on Mike Pence, the Vice President to invoke 25th Amendment to remove Trump immediately as Lawmakers(including some from his own Republican Party), think that he is not capable of continuing as President of the US even for a single day. His son while addressing mob, declared that it is not Republican Party any more , it is the Trump’s Republican Party. It is time, saner elements in Republican Party to act and act swiftly to show the door to Trump and expel him from the party. He has done immense harm to them which is evident from Senate elections in Georgia, where Republicans lost both Senate seats after 20 years, as voters showed their anger at polls only due to Trump’s policies and his actions.
On 3 November, a majority of the US electorate voted to eject the President from the White House. Yet Donald Trump still refuses to accept the verdict. Populism’s pretence of devotion to “the will of the people” lies in a shambles. Conservatives have demonstrated their readiness to jettison democracy for the sake of clinging to power or appeasing an unhinged man-child. If the response of Republican Congressional leadership to Trump is a case study, the answer is discouraging. The other day, Mitch McConnell stood sobbing in the Senate over a colleague’s pending departure but had nothing to say about the president’s destructive behaviour. The Supreme Court, however, slammed the door on President Donald Trump’s preposterous lawsuits. State legislators ignored his pressure to countermand the voters. The Electoral College cast a majority of its votes for President-elect Joe Biden. Trump’s efforts to usurp the presidency have failed. That is cause for relief.
But not too much relief. No one who understands the law believed that Trump and his supporters and enablers stood more than a minuscule chance of overturning the election. In the course of failing to usurp the presidency, however, Trump succeeded at usurping the Republican Party. On that front, his accomplishments since November 3 have been impressive. With his legal challenges safely out of the way, now is a good moment to take stock. Many Republicans still believe in democratic norms such as the rule of law, the centrality of truth, the peaceful transfer of power and the legitimacy of the opposition party. But Trump is not among those Republicans, and he has won astonishing acquiescence and support from his party as he has set about trashing democratic norms and principles. In the Atlantic three years ago, Benjamin Wittes and Jonathan Rauch warned that the Republican Party, as an institution, had become a danger to the rule of law and the integrity of our democracy. Thereafter, Trump only escalated his assaults on democratic norms.
Now, however, he has pushed even deeper into illiberal territory, spuriously attacking the legitimacy of the election. In doing so, he has won the support of many of the party’s federal officeholders (including a majority of House Republicans) and the silence of the large majority of the rest. Just a handful of Republican Senators, Mitt Romney most impressively, have found the backbone to call him out. America’s constitutional order, the political scientist Gregory Weiner argues, depends on a style of politics that the conservative political philosopher Michael Oakeshott called “nomocratic.” Nomocratic regimes hold themselves accountable to public processes (such as voting) whose outcome no one can be sure of in advance. They commit themselves to the rule of law and democratic decision making, even if the other side wins. Teleocratic politics, by contrast, is accountable to particular outcomes. Legitimacy comes not from following the agreed-upon rules but from obtaining the desired result. In other words, election is valid—provided our side wins.
America now has not just two political parties but two political regimes, one nomocratic and the other teleocratic, cohabiting but incompatible. The closest modern parallel might be the South in the days of Jim Crow. Ostensibly, the South was part of American democracy, but in reality it was a separate polity—undemocratic because so many voices and voters were excluded, teleocratic because its permissible outcomes were bounded by white supremacy. Trump has placed himself explicitly in the teleocratic camp. Teleocracy is incompatible with democracy and the rule of law; Trump’s position would once have horrified Republicans. Now, by acquiescing to Trump, they have made it their de facto creed. By contrast, although prominent Democrats questioned the legitimacy of Trump’s election in 2016 and George W. Bush’s in 2000, Democratic leaders generally adhere to nomocratic tenets and none has come remotely as unmoored from them as Trump has.
— The writer is former DG (Emigration) and consultant ILO, IOM.