In the final agonizing days of President Donald Trump’s tenure in the Oval Office, a darkness is threatening to engulf what was once the greatest, freedom-loving nation on Planet Earth.
It did not need to be this way. A full measure of blame can be laid at the feet of Mitch McConnell – the Republican Senate Majority Leader in Washington, D.C. – who, four years ago, chose to remain silent as his then newly-elected president boasted wildly and falsely: “I am the greatest president since Abraham Lincoln.”
That small dark cloud of Inauguration Day groundless bragging has since grown from childish bravado to the scale of a tragic opera, Trump’s version of the final act of Gotterdammerung – The Twilight of the Gods.
It will be well into January before we can add “former” to his title. And, there seems little doubt that he intends to make the wait as uncomfortable and chaotic as possible. If democracy suffers in the process, and the nation he promised to make great again loses all respect on the world stage, so be it. The fault will be the failure of others; never of his own bonfire of vanity.
Through centuries of repetitive world history, we are reminded that Nero fiddled and threw another party while Rome burned and its empire collapsed. It’s what the media has now tagged as Trump’s “scorched earth” swan song.
This brings me back to where I started with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his fellow Republican senators who could have taught Trump the basics of democracy. They chose instead to let him become the ringmaster of his own sad political circus. They worried about his irrational behaviour but never voiced disapproval of his dubious acts until a few days ago
McConnell – his voice just above a quaver – was answering questions the other day in a media scrum, questions about the President’s latest venture into foreign affairs and military posturing which will create major headaches for President-elect Joe Biden. McConnell suggested that people in their final days of power “should not make earth-shaking” policy changes which Trump had just done with scowl and glower firmly in place.
Just a spark of truth. We shall see if McConnell and his Republican spear-carriers have the courage and integrity to openly denounce Trump’s “scorched earth” policy.
They can borrow a few words from Sir Winston Churchill when he faced a Nazi leader who brooked no challenge to his ambitions, a leader who thrived on mass rallies and muscle to control dissent: “If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.”
It’s late, but never too late to reach for that sunlit upland.