My Turn: A time to take stock 

  • President Donald Trump speaks during a rally protesting the electoral college certification of Joe Biden as President in Washington on Jan. 6, 2021.  AP FILE PHOTO/EVAN VUCCI

Published: 1/18/2022 9:13:12 AM
Modified: 1/18/2022 9:12:07 AM

There is tradition in the new year being a time of looking back on what occurred during the year past. Certainly 2021 was a momentous one in our history. Just how devastating it was, we have yet to learn.

It began with Donald Trump exhorting a large crowd of his followers gathered in Washington to march up to the Capitol, where he would join them in protest of congressional certification of Joe Biden as President of the United States.

Trump had lost the November election fair and square, by over 8 million votes. He and his supporters had filed more than 40 lawsuits challenging the procedures and legitimacy of the election and lost them all. Should they lie for him in court, his attorneys faced disbarment. Some of the judges were persons Trump had appointed.

He knew better than to join his followers at the Capitol as he’d promised. Imagine how totally ludicrous it would have been to see a bareheaded president in dress black coat using the pole draping an American flag to jab a Capitol police officer or smash a window. He escaped to the White House for TV images of his followers doing that.

We’ve all been inundated by these ugly images — this onslaught against the police, the erection of a gallows to hang Vice President Pence should he fail to do Trump’s bidding, the moronic rifling through the desk drawers of the Speaker of the House who, incidentally, some intruders wanted to kill, should they find her.

This wasn’t political protest. This was sedition and 11 have now been so charged. They came to Washington armed but left their guns at their hotel. Had they brought them along, we can be certain hundreds would have died.

We’ve learned Trump took pleasure in the historic mayhem he had unleashed, ignoring the urging of those around him to call it off. What a thuggish performance!

He had boasted, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” His statement revealed his character and also that of his supporters. We knew from the start our defective electoral college system had allowed into high office a character from under a rock.

The problem, it turned out, was as much the leader as the led. Interviewed by the media, his followers appeared as dumb as the rock itself. Our high school history is by and large a propaganda method for the establishment, but these folks appear to have skipped learning entirely. A full third of this country’s citizens appear to have driven into a ditch and are wandering waist deep in mud.

No wonder then that Trump — who expressed animosity to Muslims and people of color, total disrespect for women, but support for fascist demonstrators — could be adroit at handling a national emergency. The marbles wouldn’t line up when it came to dealing with COVID-19. For weeks he dismissed it as the Chinese disease. We were in the clear. He bragged he’d shut down air travel from China, but those travelers circling around brought COVID from elsewhere. The proof of this failure was the explosion of cases in the cities of arrival, like the case explosion in New York.

He allowed odd products to be considered treatment and cure. To his credit, he promoted vaccine production and currently urges use, but it is estimated half the 850 million lives now lost here would have been spared by an appropriate response. In 2021 the U.S., with only slightly over 4% of the world’s population and the best medical system in the world allowed 20% of world cases and of deaths.

Most alarming in our stock-taking of 2021 is the gathering evidence Republicans are traversing every avenue to secure control of the country in future elections.

There is deep resentment that an election could have raised a person of color to the presidency. That fueled current anger.

Knowing how the electoral college system skews vote power, Republicans for decades focused on political control of low population states. They are using that power now to control who gets to vote and how votes will be counted.

They neither propose nor support legislation in Congress. They presented no platform at their 2020 convention. Their aim is clearly total power, an authoritarian state.

The constitutional way to politically compete would be for the party to support and propose legislation the public seeks.

Charlemont resident Carl Doerner is an author and historian currently at work on a re-examination of and challenge to the “American narrative.”


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