On paper, the experiment that is the United States of America is a formidable one: Born out of a revolutionary struggle, the country built by former British colonials, slaves and a long line of immigrants stands today as one of the strongest nations in the history of humanity with an unrivaled military, economic, scientific and cultural power and influence.
Up to today, the appeal of the U.S dollar, the charm of its culture that is always on display by athletes, entertainers as well as the potential for living the American dream, make the country the most desired destination for people of all races, creed and class around the world.
But for all its wealth and sway, the U.S has always been a troubled place.
With a history rife with internal and external conflicts and an ever-present under current of racial and economic disparities and discontent, many of its detractors think it’s only a matter of time before it implodes and become a failed state.
As unlikely as it seems, given the strength of its institutions and what’s portrayed as the indomitable spirit of the “American way,” the chinks in its armor exposed by two unwieldy and unpredictable elements, one a person, Donald Trump, the other a virus, COVID-19 (some would say “two viruses” but I digress) show it to be more vulnerable than anyone could’ve ever imagined.
As such, the eyes of the world is on the tormented country and wondering: Quo Vadis mighty America, quo vadis…?
But contemplating what comes next… post Trump/COVID can only be determined by looking back at what brought the country to where it is today.
It’s a day or two after Donald J. Trump has been impeached as the 45th president of the U.S. It’s the second time they had to sanction the impetuous man-child for trying to destroy the country’s sacred citadel—democracy.
Like parents at the wits end with a wayward child, America does not know what to do with Trump.
For sure, they knew then, just as they know now that he is a problem but what to do with someone who is a clear and present menace to one side of the family but absolutely lovable and more important, necessary to the other side, remains a nation-wide dilemma.
Even before he took office, some have been trying to impeach him. Four years in office, three attempts, they failed in 2017 but they got him in 2019 for colluding with a foreign government (Ukraine) blah…blah… blah and in 2021 for inciting his peeps to mash-up the place (The Capitol…the country’s centre of power and sacred symbol of democracy.)
But impeachment or no impeachment, Trump is still standing tall. Because as incompetent and ignorant as he obviously is, he has come to know the exhilarating power of hate and how it can be used to further any cause, good or bad.
Yes, we know that it has always been part of the American psyche but the culture of hatred that this one guy has been able to unfold in the country in so short a time, will the study of social scientists for decades to come.
But there it was on January 6, 2021: thousands of angry and determined men and women drawn to the place they see as a swamp…Washington, primed and ready to take their version of democracy into their own hands to keep their “president” in office.
These people, many of them smart and accomplished from all walks of life, together with an interesting mix of haters like white supremacists and assorted groups of militias from across the country, came to battle for Trump, because he told them to.
Another reason they came is because they are frightened: scared of the Mexicans drug dealers and rapists coming, the brown menace; together with the black menace, Black Lives Matter and its supporters on the streets calling for social justice; too many Muslims and Iran; immigrants from shit-hole countries; China and the Chinese flu, Big Tech and all this technology, loss of jobs, loss of white power … it makes the average while guy and gal feel like hurting somebody.
And what a better place to start than in a building where a group of politicians are gathered to conspire to steal an election that their president, Trump won fair and square. (Of course he did, they’ll tell you… if you don’t count all those votes from Black people.)
So, they cuffed and kicked their way past the police officers, scaled the walls, smashed in the windows and made their way into the Capitol where they pissed and too-too’d on the floor and smeared it on the walls, violating everything in sight.
Too bad in the minds of many, they didn’t find the politicians who had to cower and crawl and make their way into secret orifices of the hallowed building, fearful of their neighbors and peers, some of whom wanted to hang them.
In the end of the pillaging, five people died including a police officer who was smashed on the head with a fire extinguisher.
By the end of the day, Trump, who watched it all with his family and close friends in a room with strains of Laura Branigan’s “Gloria,” blaring and some of them bobbing awkwardly to the beat…
It was late in the day when Trump woke up from his reverie and told his stop-the-steal-fighters that he loved them but wanted peace, so the should go home.
So they did. In their open-back trucks, buses, cars and on planes making their way back across America and a few to Canada leaving an embarrassed security apparatus with the task of poring through the videos, then rounding up the miscreants and jailing them.
In the meantime, COVID-19 continues to eat away at the other end of the country, trying to get to the core: 23 million and more infected and close to half a million dead.
Hospitals in California and other big cities are over-run with patients. Blacks and Latinos people are three times as likely to be infected and die from the virus. Yet half the country refuses to wear masks or socially distance.
And it’s been a while since President Trump even uttered the word “coronavirus.”
Still more than 150 members of the House of Representatives and dozen in the Senate believed that he won the elections, which he actually lost by seven million votes and themselves voted against installing President-Elect Joe Biden to office.
What a place.
That’s why there’s no telling where it’s heading and no there’s GPS to guide us to an answer.
But we can rely on the words and perceptions of a brilliant American thinker William Edward Burghardt Du Bois, in his seminal book ‘Souls of Black Folk’ who warned that: “Either America will destroy ignorance or ignorance will destroy the United States.”
Even as Trump and his peeps rock to the beat of Branigan’s pop classic:
You really don’t remember,
Was it something that he said?
Are the voices in your head calling, Gloria?
Gloria, don’t you think you’re fallin’?
If everybody wants you, why isn’t anybody callin’?
You don’t have to answer
Leave them hangin’ on the line, oh oh oh, calling Gloria
Gloria (Gloria), I think they got your number….