Wednesday, April 14, 2021

THINK STRATEGICALLY: Danger, Fragile Democracy

By on January 9, 2021

Andy Feliciotti via Unsplash

Since the very first day Donald J. Trump announced his presidential aspirations, when he called Mexican immigrants rapists and murderers, his racism toward people of Hispanic descent has been evident and dramatic to watch. The attack on Hispanics was only the first shot fired in Trump’s agenda to create division.  

Trump continued from there to develop a base of supporters that had been silent, awaiting a leader who would represent the same racism, bigotry and discrimination that they felt toward anyone other than whites. 

I have worked and traveled regularly in the United States for the past 30 years, and I have never been discriminated against until Trump took office. 

Many of Trump’s supporters can’t tell the difference between a Puerto Rican like and anyone from Latin America. To them, we all speak Spanish and thus must be illegal immigrants. When we see a U.S. president using his power to target the press and political opponents and who hosts rallies that incite his followers to attend the so-called Saving America Rally to, in his own words, “Be There. Will Be Wild!’ Trump enthused his followers to create the chaos that followed on Jan. 6. 

For many weeks, Trump and his base of supporters had been proclaiming that Jan. 6, 2021, would be a date of reckoning. They declared they would “save America” and “stop the steal” of the presidential election on that date. From any possible angle of measurement, Trump lost the election. Let’s review the data:

  1. Popular Vote: Defined as the U.S. citizens voting personally or by mail for the presidential candidates.
  • Trump: 74,222,593 votes 
  • Biden: 81,281,502 votes; Biden won by 7,058,909 votes
  1. Electoral College: 270 votes needed to win.
  • Trump: 232 Electoral College votes
  • Biden: 306 Electoral College votes
  1. Percentage of Popular Vote:
  • Trump: 46.9 percent
  • Biden: 51.4 percent
  1. U.S. States Presidential vote certification: All 50 states certified the voting results, declaring Joe Biden the president-elect.
  2. Trump filed and lost 59 election lawsuits. Even the Supreme court decided in favor of Biden.

In conclusion, the only person claiming that he won the election and voter fraud is President Trump.

However, the president continued to spout quite a toxic mix of conspiracy theories that the election was fraudulent and that he had won by a landslide.

The date of certifying the election of President-Elect Joe Biden arrived Jan. 6. The same day, Trump was pressuring Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the election and declare Trump the winner. Constitutionally no one can do that; thus, the president rallied thousands of his supporters with a speech equivalent to spraying gasoline on a fire.

The result of these actions was  that a mob of supporters attacked the U.S Capitol, waving both Trump and Confederate flags inside both the House and Senate chambers. 

In most photos, you could see Trump supporters carrying the Confederate flag, which represents the preservation of slavery, racism and bigotry. Not once since April 12, 1861, or 159 years ago when the Civil War began had the Confederate flag been present in the halls of the U.S. Congress. It took Donald Trump and his racist mob to show the world just how much our democracy has descended during Trump’s tenure. 

What occurred in the U.S. Capitol was a siege and illegal overtaking of the Capitol under Trump’s direction. However, it was not led by Trump directly; thus, it did not meet the coup definition that a state actor has to be present, but it was as close to a coup as the United States has ever seen; it met two of the three criteria of such an incident.

However, much of the Republican Party is to blame for spreading conspiracy theories about election fraud. Numerous Republican senators, including Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley, set the stage for political violence conditions in the United States, specifically election-related violence. 

U.S. electoral violence differs in cause and context from that in many nations that host unfair elections or have had a coup, but the action was similar. While the United States did not have a coup, Trump-motivated insurrection is leading the country down a socially and politically tempestuous road.

In the end, what it indeed shows is how one unscrupulous leader can destroy a 245-year-old democracy that, until Trump took office, was the most respected and influential the world had ever seen. Hence the title of this column: “Danger, Fragile Democracy.”

—Francisco Rodríguez-Castro is president and CEO of Birling Capital LLC. Think Strategically is a publication by Birling Capital LLC that summarizes recent geopolitical, economic, market and other developments This report is intended for general information purposes only and does not represent investment, legal, regulatory, or tax advice. Recipients are cautioned to seek appropriate professional counsel regarding any of the matters discussed.

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