On 20 January, 2017, a dark thing will happen to America…
In the past, some exquisite and less-than-exquisite statesmen have been inaugurated into the office of the presidency, but never before have we seen anything like this.
And no, I’m not talking about the Muslim registry, the spectre of fear that caused the loss of our civil liberties, or even the “pussy-grabbing” misogynistic objectification of women.
I’m talking about a candidate who has no elected or military experience; who has an openly adversarial relationship with many in the US armed forces, diplomatic corps and the intelligence community; a man whose candidacy, it seems, was helped by infiltration from an adversarial foreign power and who openly states that he trusts foreign dictators over the domestic opposition.
And, as though that isn’t enough, the man who will take the oath of office will assume his new role with an unprecedented array of conflicts of interest combined with the least amount of transparency of any modern president this country has seen.
Oh, and his opponent, a former First Lady who will be attending his inauguration, is someone he threatened to imprison on the campaign trail, right after he appeared to suggest his supporters should assassinate her.
Now, Hillary Clinton does not have to attend the inauguration. But in 250 years, just five former presidential couples did not attend the inaugurations of their successors.
The fact that Trump is assaulting our norms calls for us to vigorously reassert them, not to partake in denigrating the traditions of civil democracy.
In this way, she is staging more of a protest by attending the inauguration than she would be by boycotting it. She explicitly states that her duty is to the American people and US norms.
I’m pretty sure there are many places she’d rather be… like literally anywhere else in the world.
But Clinton is doing this for a reason.
Some tense, if not outright violent, scenes will emerge from Washington DC on Friday. We all saw Donald Trump’s rallies.
Lyndon B Johnson once famously said: “If you can convince the lowest white man he’s better than the best coloured man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”
Nothing changes for the white man between the “before” and “after” in that picture. He is still at the nadir and nothing has been solved.
The only difference may be that, in the “after” picture, he’s given away his vote and has no money left in his pocket. But Trump’s supporters haven’t figured out that they’ve been played yet. It still looks like they would give their last cent to see the apotheosis of his outright xenophobia.
As for the misogyny, I’ll bet you there will be more than your fair share of people wearing the notorious “Trump that bitch” T-shirts chanting “Lock her up” – only this time Hillary will be in attendance, as well as the man she ran against.
And then there’s the 200,000-plus people who are planning to protest in defiance with the Women’s March on Washington that day.
Of course, we can only speculate exactly what the resultant chaos will be like, but when you combine what is essentially a mega-Trump rally on steroids with a record number of protesters, it’s clear that the situation has the potential to ignite.
In a few days, Donald Trump will stand before a few hundred million Americans and a few billion people across the globe to take a solemn and legally binding oath to “protect and defend” the constitution that he either hasn’t read or doesn’t comprehend.
Surrounding him will be people like Steve Bannon – who ran Breitbart, a right-wing “news” publication which published articles with headlines such as, “The solution to online harassment is simple: women should log off”, “Trannies whine about hilarious Bruce Jenner billboard”, “Birth control makes women unattractive and crazy”, “Would you prefer your child had feminism or cancer?” and “Gay rights have made us dumber, it’s time to get back in the closet” – and Jeff Sessions, who has consistently shown disdain for civil rights.
I’m embarrassed by what is happening in the United States. One aspect of this reality makes me blush most of all: that perhaps the whole world thinks that all Americans are buying into this circus and that Donald Trump, scary clown par excellence, has fooled everyone.
It’s not an unreasonable assumption. We are, after all, watching this blatant lying and duplicitous behaviour being escalated to the most visible sanctum of American power at the US Capitol. The entire world cannot be faulted if they were to think that we’re all stupid enough to blithely watch this and not know any better.
Even those of us (more than half of the population) who did not vote for him.
His supporters will watch the deification of everything that is debased and derogatory as it is lifted from the dredges of society to a shining city on a hill.
The rest of us, a disenfranchised and silenced majority, will watch helplessly as this nation takes a gravely flawed, likely mortal, misstep. In the eyes of the world and the judgement of history, the people who voted for Donald Trump are fools. The rest of us stand here as idiots by association.
* The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Media.