JANUARY 5, 2021
What is a banana republic? If Donald Trump had his way, the US would have been one. It would have been hyperbole maybe a few weeks back, despite Trump’s relentless undermining of the country’s democratic processes and institutions. But, now, the US media has reported, based on a recording of Trump’s phone conversation with Georgia secretary of state Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, and Ryan Germany, Raffensperger’s general counsel, the outgoing US president tried to knock the legs off the country’s democracy.
Trump first tried to arm-twist Raffensperger into “conceding” that Joe Biden hadn’t really polled 11,779 more votes than him-Trump and his camp believes there has been massive voter fraud, with votes polled by “dead” electors-and encouraged him to find ways to invalidate these votes. The ‘dead voters’ claims are without substance, as election officials across the state where Trump tried to challenge the results have pointed out.
The Washington Post broke the details of the outrageous, extraordinary phone call. After failing to make much headway with Raffensperger on ‘dead voters’, Trump outright demanded that the Georgia official find him 11,780 votes. Failing this, Raffensperger was told, that he could be charged with a crime-Trump oversees the Justice Department till Biden takes over. For much of the conversation with Raffensperger and lawyer Ryan Germany who was also on the call (so were three Trump aides, including his chief of staff, Mark Meadows), Trump would seem like a petulant child, a sore loser.
But the fact is that there is a record of corruption and illegalities that dog Trump; against such a backdrop, it is difficult to say he wouldn’t pull all stops to get what he wants-an illegitimate second presidency. His impeachment also centred on his misuse of his office to force another head of state for his political ends. What’s, however, more dangerous is the distrust he and his advisers have cultivated among millions of Americans, including Federal lawmakers, in America’s democratic processes. Indeed, would a second Trump regime have been any different from a Mugabe presidency?