Politicians in solidarity with outgoing president Donald Trump found themselves at a crossroads, lose the state or lose the authority. The majority of these politicians stood by the state, as the institution is more important than the individual.
What happened yesterday in Washington – the objection to the election results and Joe Biden’s victory – is legal, with the exception of storming Congress and threatening its members.
The image of the United States, a country that prides itself on its institutions and lectures other nations on morality, has been shaken. Yet, all that is being said about the collapse of the US, civil war or the failure of the political system, could not be more disconnected from reality. The US is a country of institutions with a well-established system. What President Trump did, and what had millions of people questioning the system, was only a test for state institutions, which finally prevailed.
There is a big difference between competing over authority and conflicting with the country’s political system. The state is greater than the government and the political parties. It represents the various institutions: the presidency, the legislative bodies, the judiciary, the bureaucratic government, the federal governments and their civil and military activities and facilities.
The deep state, which is the main suspect in Trump's conspiracy theory, is the powerful apparatus of government, whether through its military, security, economic or political parts, similar to the two ruling parties of the US. Despite the conspiracy theories, it is natural that these institutions will protect the state, not the government or the president. And they will not allow Trump, or anyone else, to destroy the state’s structure or shake its foundations.
There is no conspiracy here. Trump won the presidency because of the system he is attacking. This system allowed him to run for the presidency, win and rule, even though he never worked in politics. The same system and laws that got Trump inside the White House are the ones that are removing him today. And Trump’s talk about fraud and theft of the election is words without evidence. However, the American system is not completely innocent. It allows powerful people to create leaders through donations, media pressure, and a complex system of legislation that produces specific outcomes. But there are always groups within the US that reject this system and rise against it, such as the 1960s civil rights movement, which was greater than what we saw in the past two days and spread to major cities. However, the American system is bigger than all of them and has the ability to absorb and include those angry with it. That is why we have seen African Americans and Indo-Jamaican descendants, like Barack Obama and Kamala Harris, in power.
For the Americans, the state and its safety are more important than Trump’s objections. The state uses its power to protect itself, and to remove the president if he poses a threat to the system. The majority of Republicans stood yesterday in Congress against their president because they believe that he is dividing the American people and has become a threat to the system. Republican lawmakers initially supported Trump in his claims and doubts about the accuracy of the election results. They enabled him to use all legal means to challenge the results and filed 50 lawsuits in federal courts. Trump lost all except one, which gave him a small number of votes. He then went to the Supreme Court, most of whose judges are Republicans. Yet, the court also rejected his claims, and so did his comrades and leaders of the Republican Party. Republican governors of states, where Trump claims election fraud, also stated that his claims were untrue.
It is unreasonable to think that all of these people are conspiring against him! The difference is that they are a part of the institution, to which he is an outsider. Trump’s popularity exceeds that of the Republicans who let him down, and even though his claims about conspiracy and fraud are not true, he is, perhaps, convinced that they are. This does not deny the fact that his opponents are cunning and knew very well how to run the election and its political battles better than him. They took advantage of the circumstances brought upon by the pandemic to facilitate the mail voting process, which was in their favor. Trump did not know how to challenge this system early on and restrict it to deprive his opponents of the chance to take advantage of it.
The American system, as long as it possesses a colossal industrial machine, a rich economic market, innovative universities and research centers, and a nation that is alive and kicking, it will remain a superior force. What happened recently is an embarrassing chapter that they will get over.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al- Awsat.