To some extent, immediate political and public attention is focused on the possible consequences for the former U.S. president
The decision by a special legislative committee to refer former President Donald Trump’s actions with regard to the 2020 election and the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol to the Justice Department puts the United States in a difficult position.
Indeed, it holds the U.S. political apparatus up to a mirror, as Trump and his allies sought to exploit the system to launch what would have been considered an attempted coup in any other country. “The former president and his allies were all too eager to use the complex channels of the presidential electoral machinery to invoke a constitutional crisis that this country had never seen before,”* said Aziz Huq, a professor at the University of Chicago and author of the book “The Collapse of Constitutional Remedies.”
The select committee, composed of seven Democrats and two Republicans, recommended criminal charges against Trump and political allies who sought to reverse his 2020 election defeat and aided and abetted the events that led to the violent occupation of the Capitol building in an attempt to prevent the certification of Joe Biden’s victory.
But whether or not charges are filed, doing so would be an unprecedented step that will have future consequences in a country as politicized and polarized as the United States today.
Certainly, the majority inside and outside the United States agree that Trump’s ambition for power and overwhelming ego led him to take unacceptable positions. But there is also an important but minority sector of the population that feel he represents their grievances and demands.
It Is equally correct to point out that today, a majority of Americans actively reject what Trump and his supporters stand for, as demonstrated in November’s election. But there is also a group that believes his claims of voter fraud.
Still in some ways, the situation resembles what happened after the Civil War of 1861-1865, when the political expediency of Andrew Johnson, Abraham Lincoln’s successor, led to reprieves for seditious leaders and the avoidance of real reform in the states that had seceded.
The result was to prolong the myth of the “lost cause,” of chivalrous fighters defending the rights of states to determine their affairs such as slavery, where everyone lived happily. Today’s far-right groups have a direct ancestral link to that time.
To some extent, immediate political and public attention is focused on the possible consequences for Trump. But the bigger issue in the longer term will be how the U.S. will deal with allegations against a former president who rebelled against, and endangered, American institutions with the complicity of many of his allies and supporters.
There will be consequences, but . . .
*Editor’s Note: This quote, accurately translated, could not be independently verified.