But given that, in the end, Al Qaeda and its people had no real capacity to overthrow Western democracy, seeking a new enemy was the solution proposed by far-right populism, a rising political movement around the world, which took advantage of the mature phase of globalization and the great financial crisis of 2008 to deepen the resentment of those left out.
China was to blame for the ills of globalization and the lack of jobs, and the migrants were also targeted as responsible for steeling jobs, especially Latino migrants. But, to these external enemies we had to add an internal enemy, and Donald Trump, an outsider who won the elections in 2016 against all odds, found it in his political rivals: the Democrats.
Trump, a dubious and abusive character who grew up in the shadow of real estate scams and television fame, embodies a perverse part of the American dream that claims that anyone can become rich and famous in the land of opportunity and that there is nothing perverse about conquering power for your benefit and that of your family at any price.
Trump handled the immense power given to him by the White House arrogantly and disdainfully, and dazzled millions of Americans with his lying and manipulative rhetoric, using any means to exalt his figure above everyone and everything. But his transactional view of human relations, based on a ruthless epic where anything goes in a zero-sum game, and where lying at all costs and crushing people is part of the progress in business and life. That can serve to build a real estate empire, where speculation and massive tax evasion is the engine of profit, but it does not serve to govern a country.
It is not understood how the Republican Party, the “Great Old Party” of Abraham Lincoln, could have been thrown into the hands of such a psychopathic character and not see the danger that it represented for democracy and its institutions. During Trump’s four years, we have witnessed the worst of politics, which consists of blindly flattering the leader with unwavering personal loyalty, with the sole objective of thriving and retaining the position.
But, when the moment of truth came in a democracy, represented by the ballot box and the possibility of alternation in power, all the masks fell. And Trump said, as he did say in the 2016 election, that if he were not the winner, there could be only one reason why: massive fraud. His Republican colleagues heard him shout this attack on democracy, and they fell silent. That is why they are also guilty of what happened now.
This post was originally published on Radio Free.