On the morning of 6 January I sat down with a new book which I’d received as a Christmas gift and was looking forward to reading. I’d spent a fair amount of the previous night watching CNN and hoping rather than expecting that the Democrats could win both Senate seats in Georgia’s runoffs. I knew that Trumpery had done a lot to help them but had the idiot in chief done enough?
Little did I know how prescient that book selection would be as the day unfolded. The book; Bob Woodward’s “Rage”!
As the day unfolded and it looked as though both seats were about to fall, a bonfire of the insanities was being lit in Washington with the idiot wing of the Republican Party about to mount what was effectively an attempted coup.
For months now, we’ve watched an American comedian Bill Maher warn week after week that Trump would not go quietly into the night and asking every Democrat who came on his programme what they would do when he refused to concede and leave the White House? Each, in turn, assured us that he would go on the back of a massive electoral defeat just as every other defeated President had done. To say that Maher was sceptical would not be an exaggeration. How right he was! I’m looking forward to his first show of the New Year.
What, it seems to me, that they missed was the extent to which the Trump supporters actually believed the lies they were being fed by Fox etc. Starting with “birtherism”, fake news, alternative facts, the Inauguration crowd, Paedos in a pizza parlour, Qanon etc and on it went for 4 years.
I notice that Twitter and FaceBook have now finally acted to limit Trump’s accounts, did anyone see which way the horse bolted? It’s not even that the storming of the Capitol was planned in secret, it was all over social media and fuelled from Trump’s own Twitter account! The decisions which led directly to the deaths of 5 people need to be examined and potentially result in police investigations. The decisions not to have the National Guard at least on stand by and then not sent in to calm the situation deserve the full scrutiny of Congress as well as law enforcement. When we recall the time spent investigating the tragic events in Benghazi then the families of those 5 people deserve full accounting.
Ironically, I ended that day playing “The Devil went down to Georgia”! Once more he lost his soul!
The tragedy which has played out in the US has, perhaps, some lessons for us all.
The language and conduct of political discussion has become progressively more antagonistic and less dependent on truth or at least on evidence. Allegations and insults are bandied about with little regard for their veracity or the impacts they have on people. Full disclosure, I have been as guilty as others of tossing a fair amount of abuse around. We do though need to reflect on why we have reached the current level where arguably, with Merkel about to retire, the West is pretty devoid of Leadership.
We see the dangers of playing just to your base and it can have the two consequences we see in Washington. That, although your base turns out in huge numbers, the other side who are repelled by the rhetoric and actions turns out more so you lose. Secondly the losers have been so convinced that they “won” that they are unable to accept the result.
Just as President-Elect Joe Biden strives to the end divisiveness of the last four years so we can learn that just winning Indyref 2 is not enough! It must be the catalyst for pulling all of Scotland together, we need those who support the Union to accept the result and help build a better society, community and country.
We can look at how some pretty base feelings were stirred and then manipulated to produce the Better Together campaign with, for example, its scare tactics on pensioners and people from other EU countries. This in turn was the template for the Brexit campaign which was the least credible and most lie filled campaign the UK as ever seen. That in turn was used to fuel the fires in the US and although Germany, France and The Netherlands etc stemmed the tide of right-wing populism, the UK succumbed again in 2019.
One thing which stands out, to me at least, is that there is nothing like a commonly accepted basic set of facts which can serve as the basis of debate about the future. Certainly opposition parties here in Scotland appear utterly incapable of seeing beyond the next session of FMQs.
The media seem unable to point out even the most obvious contradictions as the demands change from week to week. Keep schools open is replaced by move to online learning with not a backward glance. Vaccinate my group is demanded with no thought to the simple fact that this would potentially mean a more vulnerable person doing without. Why haven’t the Government spent more is asked but no reporter points out that the campaign of 2014 means that we must still go cap in hand to the Westminster Government which has nothing remotely like a plan, far less a strategy for economic recovery. The one consolation in all of this is that we in the YES movement are, at the moment, blessed in our opponents. There is by common consent no sign of a credible political opposition which could stop the SNP winning a majority in May and then the Andrew Marr question will become even more potent. The only thing which could stop that is internal fighting and division. Those who wish to pursue their own agendas at the risk of Independence may well benefit from a period of self-restraint. As President Trump finally leaves the Oval Office, we should all reflect that just 12 months ago he looked a damn good bet for re-election.