Tue | Mar 9, 2021

Mark Wignall | Trump and his distorted democracy

Published:Sunday | January 10, 2021 | 12:09 AM
Trump supporters participate in a rally Wednesday, January 6, 2021 in Washington. As Congress prepared to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his baseless claims of elect
AP Trump supporters participate in a rally Wednesday, January 6, 2021 in Washington. As Congress prepared to affirm President-elect Joe Biden’s victory, thousands gathered to show their support for President Donald Trump and his baseless claims of election fraud.

To track Trump’s trajectory of duplicity, stunning incompetence, and destruction, some dates and observations must be recalled.

June 2015: This is the one always captioned by “… Trump had slowly descended a golden escalator …” the month he announced his 2016 run for the presidency.

Some would recall how he ended his America First presentation and the concluding words of the speech: “Sadly, the American dream is dead, but if I get elected president, I will bring it back bigger and better and stronger than ever before, and we will make America great again.” Fewer still will recall that Trump campaign paid a booking agency $50 per actor to have a crowd of sorts show up to cheer for him.

Based on what we have learned about the November victory, no one was more surprised than Trump himself. But he was a showman, and at no time during his presidency was he ever really in synch with actual governance, especially when behind the scenes, he must have known of his own incompetence -the sort that was fully integrated into his life of multiple business failures.

But forever the showman, he had to overcompensate by conquering the minds of the first of his cultists: His cabinet members.

June 2017: Trump has his first Cabinet meeting and allows members of the press to tarry for a while. Then something most bizarre happens. An obviously choreographed act takes place. One by one, each member of Trump’s Cabinet offers him effusive praise, with one even saying how blessed he is to work in carrying out the president’s agenda.

August 2017: Trump is in Brussels attending a NATO meeting. As the leaders gather for a group photo, Trump rudely uses his arm to push away Montenegro Prime Minister Duško Marković so that he can position himself in the front row. As he preens himself, one can see the childish bully in the grown man and a fascist puffing up his chest.

Knowing how easily intelligent people fall prey to a strongman, Trump found comfort in treating the presidency as the vehicle to carry him from rally to rally, constantly feeding his ‘deplorables’ a diet of hate, class resentment, and a bullhorn of racism.

As he cemented his cultic relationship with the wackos on the far right and stole all activism from the mainstream conservatives, many in the GOP House and Senate saw what he was doing but felt powerless to tilt the GOP towards just right of centre. Trump had them conquered, quiet, and always falling in line.

What happened in DC last Wednesday was the natural spillover from the cauldron of hate that Trump had been constantly stirring from that down-escalator ride in June 2015 and from the early days of his presidency.


The US constitution makes a presumption that even in the worst of times, the best judgment of the electorate will suffice to present to the people the best leadership. In the 1970s when president Nixon, a highly intelligent man, was facing impeachment over the Watergate break-ins, he resigned and ‘had his sins reprieved’ by the incoming president Gerald Ford.

Unlike Nixon, Trump has never made any pretence of his lawbreaking. At his impeachment, members of the GOP Senate saw their own stars attached to Trump’s wagon and allowed him to remain as president. I am certain that Trump must have had a good laugh at that as he watched men with Ivy League credentials pay homage to the dunce in the Oval Office.

Since his impeachment, almost all of the remainder of his presidency has been impeachable items piled on top of each other.

As his deluded mind refused to accept the reality of his election loss, he led his deplorables through numerous Twitter rages until critical mass was attained. As he promised a ‘wild’ rally and march on Washington, DC and his lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, promised “trial by combat”, the dam had to burst at some point. And it did, with seditionists storming the Capitol.

How brave of Trump, who had promised to join the supporters! Of course, it was totally in tune with his cowardly nature that he would flee to the safe confines of the White House while about four people were shot dead in the assault on democracy.

Someone must pay, and the first name on that list must be Donald Trump. James Comey, former Federal Bureau of Investigation director, has penned another book, and in it he has suggested that it would be best for America not to levy charges against Trump after Biden comes to office.

What would a president need to do to warrant investigation and likely prosecution? Burn down the White House? Wage war on Greenland? Shoot potential refugees at the southern border? Shoot someone in broad daylight on a street in New York?


The former senate leader has been one of Trump’s most effective enablers, but somehow he believes that he has found his heroic side. After the sewage has burst out all over the streets. His fellow senators like Hawley and Ted Cruz should do the decent thing and resign. That, of course, will not happen, and who knows, maybe a year from now those men will remake themselves into patriots and saviours of the republic.

As the seditionists ran wild last Wednesday, it was not lost on many that it seemed like the police were giving them a free pass to invade the solemnity of Congress. But then again, maybe the Congress was simply seating those who were more honest than the pretenders who, from 2017, were preaching division and blessing the cultic relationship with the sick mind of Trump.

This cannot be forgotten or forgiven. There is no way in which America can come to grips with this sordid bit of history without serious accounting embedded in that process. Democracy requires that this happens even if many of the American people have never reached that basic level of understanding to survive in it.

- Mark Wignall is a political and public-affairs analyst. Email feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and mawigsr@gmail.com.