Friday, January 8, 2021


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By Lily Hikam*)

Yesterday (January 8, 2021, Indonesian time) was a historic day for the United States and its democratic tradition: for the first time since 1814, the US Capitol was stormed and rioted upon by a mob . The last time this happened, it was during wartime (the War of 1812 against the British Empire), but now it’s happened because the president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, himself encouraged and incited this violent uprising on his own country because he would not accept his defeat in the last presidential election.

Protesters, who are fervent and fanatic Trump supporters and who wholeheartedly believe the claim that “election was stolen” as the incumbent president has repeatedly claimed, stormed the Capitol building on the eve of the Electoral College vote certification by the US Congress to certify Joe Biden’s victory as the next US President.

The mob trashed the Capitol building, smashed its windows, and looted it. One (now iconic) picture from the riot yesterday showed a man carrying the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives’ podium and waving at the camera with a wide smile on his face like he just bought a souvenir he really like from the gift shop on a school field trip.

There are photos and videos of the Capitol police being overwhelmed by the protesters and, ironically if not sadly, taking selfies with protesters. On the whole, one cannot help but see the obvious difference between the police response on yesterday’s protest versus the police response to peaceful Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests.

When the dust settled, four people were killed, along with an estimated of hundreds thousands of dollars in property damage, and a renewed fervor by Democrats to remove President Trump from office before his last day in office by invoking the 25th Amendment.

Being removed from office it seems, however, to be the least bit of consequences Trump should suffer for his sins of inciting violence.

For Trump could have filled his lame duck session by protecting his legacy (as it’s been rumored he wants to run again in 2024) by pretending to be the populist he campaigned as in 2016. He has stated that he supported the $2000 stimulus check for Americans, in contrast to the Republican leadership. He has threatened to veto the new defense bill because of its bloated military budget and the provision in it that protects Big Tech companies like FB and Google from lawsuits.

If he followed through on all of these rhetoric, then he would have been in a pretty comfortable place to start his 2024 campaign. Yet, he chose to do this, going deeper and deeper into his palpable delusion that he won the Presidential election and that nefarious forces are stealing the election from him and perpetuating this false reality to his millions of followers who took his words as if it is the gospel according to Trump!.

His speech yesterday was the strike of match that lit the flame that he has been stoking for months by his nonstop claims of “election fraud” and “stolen election.” The blame lies not just on Trump, however. Numerous Republican Congresspeople and Senators who parroted Trump’s claims of election fraud for their own political gains and fundraising successes (people like Republican Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri), those far-right news media such as One America News Network and Newsmax, who kept spreading doubts and news validating Trump’s fraudulent claims. All of these factors created the perfect storm leading to the chaos that unfolded yesterday.

Now, four people are dead, public trusts in the election process and election integrity are forever marred. Will America ever recover from this? One can only hope for the best, but time will tell.

*) PhD in Biochemistry


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