IN HIS characteristic manner, he threw everything into the fight. Once it dawned on him that he would lose the November 3 election, outgoing President Donald Trump resorted to playing rough, as we say in this part of the world. He weaved conspiracy theories upon conspiracy theories over the outcome of the election. He claimed that he was on his way to winning before the United States (US) presidential election was stolen from him.
It all started before the election. But nobody paid attention to his shenanigans then when he said he would not concede if he lost the election. That was vintage Trump. He loves winning all the time. He is a well known bad loser. Whether in the field of sport, in business or in politics, he hates to lose. The fear of losing gnaws at his heart. So, he anticipates it before it happens. In preparing the ground for such eventuality, Trump builds things up to a crescendo, so that when what he fears most happens, he can say: “Didn’t I say so”.
The election was, in a way, a referendum on Trump and his continued stay in power after his four-year tenure during which he gave America a bad name around the world. When he defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, the election was free and fair because he won. If he had lost, he would have behaved the same way that he is doing today. But, the world would have been spared the agony of seeing him desecrate the most powerful office on earth with his irrational and erratic behaviours. He gloated four years ago: “we won with a landslide”. He won by 306 electoral votes to Clinton’s 232.
He lost by the same margin to Joseph Robinette Biden (Jnr) four years later. Trump did not like the way history repeated itself and put him on the losing line. He claimed that the election was marred by fraud, questioning the processes in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Michigan. He asked for and got a recount in each of the states because he met the percentage point for the requirements. He still lost with the recount, yet he was not satisfied. He went to court and also lost. Trump lost up to the Supreme Court. In all, he filed 62 cases and the outcome was 62 – 0.
His kind of president is rare in the annals of US. Trump tried to manipulate the Electoral College when it met last December 14 in order to have his way. He threw his weight round within his Republican Party in a bid to get pliable people from its controlled states into the College that will upturn the will of the people. Again, he failed. But he was not done yet. The Congress, comprising the Senate and the House of Representatives, is the last stop in the electoral process. The Congress’ duty is to ratify what the College did. Trump threw his last card there, hoping to finally have his way. It was a big miscalculation.
He was counting on his man, Vice President Mike Pence, who constitutionally is the Senate president, to bend the law for him. Long before the Congress convened on January 6, Trump resorted to sweet talking him, saying at a rally in Georgia where he went to campaign for his party’s two candidates in the Senate run-off elections: “I hope Mike Pence comes through for us. Of course, if he doesn’t come through, I won’t like him quite as much. Nah, Mike is a great guy”. Pence sided with the constitution instead of a deluded president. Hours before the Congress’ session began, he issued a statement, saying that he has no power to do what his boss is asking him to do: upturn the election and ask the states to reevaluate the votes.
Seeing the handwriting on the wall, Trump swiftly rallied his supporters against his country that same day, all in his desperation to remain in office. For the first time in the over 200-year democracy of the US, a sitting president instigated violence against the state. The Commander-in-Chief became the Instigator-in-Chief. It was unimaginable seeing the president, with just 14 days to go as at then, inspiring a putsch against his own administration. All over the world, people watched on television as his supporters converged on the capital in Washington, demanding his retention as president despite losing his reelection bid. He goaded them on, every inch of the way, giving them directives on what to do and what not to do.
Was this happening in America? Not a few asked as they beheld the mob’s invasion of the Capitol Hill, which houses the Congress. The mob forced its way into the hallowed chambers of the Congress, demanding the heads of Pence and Speaker Nancy Pelosi. “Where’s Pence?” They asked no one in particular as they broke into the Capitol. Trump lapped it all up on Twitter as America unravelled before the eyes of the world. Instead of condemnation, he was full of commendation for the mob that he called ‘patriots’. “These are things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election is so unceremoniously and viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly and unfairly treated for so long”.
Politicians of the Democratic and Republican hue were livid. The Democrats led by Pelosi and incoming Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer called on Pence to invoke the 25th amendment for Trump’s removal as he can no longer discharge the functions of his office. Where Pence demurs, the House, Pelosi said, would impeach Trump. That may have been done by the time you are reading this. If that happens, weep not for him for that is something he invited upon himself. Besides, he will go down in history as the first American president to be impeached twice. Why did Trump, who now has six days left in office before the January 20 inauguration of Biden, take the election outcome so badly? Where is it written that he must win? Or did he take to heart the predictions of some prophets in America and Africa that he would win? Their so-called ‘angels from Africa’ did not sanction their false prophecies.
With his futile challenge of the election having come to a bitter end, there is need for him to ponder what the future holds for him after office. Trump would be escaping with the bare skin of his teeth if he escapes impeachment by the House. Not a few will say serves him right if he is impeached because his last act in office was the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Yet, he is not remorseful. He still has the temerity to defend his role in the invasion of the Capitol. According to him, his statements on that fateful January 6 were “totally appropriate”. Were they? May his tribe decrease.