Although the US election is done and dusted, and Donald Trump now faces an uncertain future, most of the democratic world seems to have formed a consensus that the scenes in the Capitol were scandalous, and terrifying. They might still lead to criminal charges against the President; they have already caused him to be impeached, for a genuinely “unprecedented” second time.
The fact that the crowd was incited by Trump is seemingly settled, and leading parliamentarians from around the world have weighed in to condemn both the actions of the murderous mob, and also those of the ‘Instigator in Chief’.
Those leaders include Boris Johnson, Nicola Sturgeon, Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron, Justin Trudeau, Jacinda Ardern, and even Vladimir Putin. They all condemned the revolt, but in good old Australia we weren’t that concerned, it seems.
Our Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, expressed his “distress”, but he could not bring himself to connect the actions of the mob with President Trump. That is a disgraceful omission, for a democratically elected leader, considering that Trump’s goal was to incite a violent insurrection, with the possible outcome of seizing power, perhaps permanently. Do not forget that Trump is still the “Commander in Chief” of the most powerful nation on earth.
Some MPs thought Twitter was more at fault than the President
Michael McCormack was our acting Prime Minister last week. He was asked whether he condemned Trump’s actions, but then he went on to answer that “violence is violence and we condemn it in all its forms,” and then he compared the Black Lives Matter demonstrations with the attack on the Capitol. He did not want to be drawn on who was to blame.
Liberal MPs Craig Kelly and Dave Sharma, Nationals MP George Christensen, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack are among government members who have condemned the “silencing” of Trump.
This is presumably because they believe that your right to incite violence is more important than the competing right of having your vote counted, and not overturned by a mob of illiterate thugs. It also shows that these ‘luminaries’ are woefully ignorant of the exceptions to the First Amendment. These are as follow:
Categories of speech that are given lesser or no protection by the First Amendment (and therefore may be restricted) include obscenity, fraud, child pornography, speech integral to illegal conduct, speech that incites imminent lawless action, speech that violates intellectual property law, true threats, and commercial speech such as advertising. Wikipedia (Categories in bold type are those Trump habitually uses.)
Why would Morrison not condemn Trump?
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has always been embarrassingly taken in by Trump’s ‘braggadocio’ (an apt term, meaning boastful or arrogant behaviour). Morrison has stopped far short of condemning the President, an extraordinary omission from the leader of a liberal democracy, considering Trump’s goal was to violently overthrow the results of a democratic election and retain his power.
A complicating factor is that much of Trump’s electoral success has been built on the white evangelical vote. Footage of charismatic Christians ‘laying hands on’ Trump in the White House may be viewed as quaint in Australia, but is Morrison ‘blinded by the light’ when it comes to Trump? We can only hope he does not see Trump as “the chosen one”, as Trump has been described in the US.
Well after Trump lost the election, he awarded Morrison a Legion of Merit, for leadership which if it wasn’t so tragic, would be funny. Presumably he did not mean the award to be for addressing global warming!
So John Howard gets a medal, and we go to war in Iraq. Scott Morrison gets a medal, and we defend Trump’s right to attempt to overturn an election.
Trump has been exposed over the last four years as a violent sexual predator, an adulterer, a white supremist, an anti-semite, a religious bigot, a homophobe, a fraudulent businessman, a liar, a thief, an environmental vandal and a putative dictator, and yet many of our elected representatives appear to support his right to invalidate elections and to undermine the rule of law.
The death and destruction he caused by mis-handling the pandemic is yet to be finally calculated, but the fallout will continue for years, I suspect. Will he ever be brought to book for that? As he kills his supporters they continue to flock to his side, so maybe not. Again, where were Australia’s leaders standing as he touted dangerous and stupid solutions? If you are Craig Kelly, shoulder to shoulder.
These matters are not mere mannerisms, or a lack of style. They set him apart from most of humanity, and it is worth thanking fate for his incompetence, and lack of care for detail. At least we have been spared the damage he could have caused if he was half-way competent. The US is still a democratic republic, and we can only hope Joe Biden can repair some of the damage.
But what of the state of our own democracy? A Government obsessed with secrecy, faux threats to our security, unaccountable, most of the members in the grip of the neoliberal sickness, and some individuals who appear to be in personal thrall to the departing, failed President. How many times must we utter “Poor Fellow, my country”? It might be time for Australians to actually stop, and think. This is serious.