David Lovejoy, Echo co-founder
This is one last head-scratch about Donald Trump and the American political paroxysm before the forty-fifth president drags himself, or is dragged, away.
Nobody needs any reminders about what a corrupt and vicious administration has been in power for the last four years.
When a plutocrat’s spawn, whose only success has been in creating a television persona, lucks into the almost unlimited power of the US presidency, corruption and vice are inevitable. And given Trump’s business record incompetence was also ensured.
That incompetence, assuming it was not something darker, has led to a US covid death toll of 350,000 as the New Year turned.
Apparently it was not enough death. Lame-duck presidents do not normally approve federal executions, but Trump has allowed three since the election, and nine more are scheduled before he leaves office. Perhaps he thinks that if enough blood is spilled he magically won’t have to leave after all?
Of course law-and-order politicians believe fervently, against all evidence, in the deterrent power of the death penalty, but what are we to make of the fact that Trump pardoned the Blackwater war criminals who murdered innocent civilians in Baghdad in 2007?
There was no suggestion that the conviction of the four mercenaries was unsafe, or their sentences too severe.
The lives of 14 Iraqis, including two children, simply do not matter. They count even less than the lives of unarmed black people shot by American police.
In a way, there is some solace in Trump’s incompetence and bloodthirsty stupidity.
If he had been more calculating he could have done even more damage to the American social fabric.
Instead his term was a rehearsal for the fascism that could arrive, if someone smarter than him takes over the White House and destroys all the mechanisms for removing a president.
Julius Caesar, who was much more talented than Trump, made the first draft of permanent dictatorship when it became clear that Rome’s old political system was inadequate to administer the city’s vastly expanded territories.
He was removed with extreme prejudice, but his sister’s grandson Octavian was the smarter man who successfully turned the republic into an empire, a less democratic system, but arguably a more stable one.
American democracy has been shaken by the antics of a television flimflam man, but the republic has survived.
The institutions it relies on had better be stronger than those of ancient Rome.