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A dark moment in US democracy

By Christopher Owuor
Friday, January 8th, 2021
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In summary

Credible elections and smooth hand-over of power is the hallmark of democracy.

The US has historically projected itself as the lead agitator for democratic values globally.

But for the past three months the world has been treated to incendiary and reckless comments by outgoing President Donald Trump who has refused to accept defeat to former Vice-President Joe Biden.

Trump contested the election through a variety of outrageous conspiracy theories and vexatious court challenges.

The anti-climax of the power tussle came on Wednesday when the world witnessed horrifying scenes of Trump’s supporters storming Capitol building in Washington DC, the heart of US democracy, at his instigation and forced suspension of a joint session of Congress to certify Biden’s win.

US authorities said that four people were killed in the protest. It was a disgraceful and blatant attack on democracy.

It is unimaginable that such an act was fuelled by Trump, who urged his followers to march on the Capitol to pressure lawmakers to overturn Biden’s victory.

It was one of the darkest moments in the US history that left an indelible stain on its democratic fabric.

The disgraceful act by Trump and his goons must have forced millions of Americans and other global citizens to hide faces in shock and shame. 

The mob not only stormed the Senate but one of them had the audacity to sit on the Speaker’s chair, on a solemn occasion of affirming a presidential election.

But unfortunately, the actions of Trump and his goons bear the collective feelings of a section of Americans inebriated by jingoism, racism, hatred and lies that have been perpetrated by Trump for the past four years, and sustained by captive media that have been impervious to truth and reason.

To a large extent, the ugly scenes in Washington deprive American the self-assigned role of the global watchman for democracy and human rights.

But on the flip side, the resistance to Trump’s violent attempt to cling on to power is an important lesson on the need for citizens and their leaders to obey and defend their constitutions at any cost and build strong institutions.

Despite  intimidation by Trump and his supporters, members of the US Senate —including outgoing Vice-President Mike Pence — stood with courage, defended the American Constitution and affirmed Biden’s victory.

A strong lesson to any leader keen to cling to power—anywhere in the world.

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