John Roughan: Trump is a danger to the US and its democracy


Donald Trump leaves office next week rated by many Americans as the worst president in their history.I think that flatters him. He doesn’t deserve to be ranked with presidents. He never truly became one, never acquired the dignity of the office, never realised it was greater than himself.

He used the White House as a prop for partisan television promotions, which presidents worthy of the title have been careful not to do.

Unlike them, he had not previously held a public office or a military one, never led a public company. Trump’s entire leadership experience had been at the head of an unlisted family business where he was not answerable to shareholders.

He didn’t work with people, he used them for as long as they could bear it. His West Wing had constantly revolving doors. Books attest to his caprice and the chaos around him.

He was, as is now evident, psychologically unfit for elected office. Narcissism is not a term of abuse, it is a clinical personality disorder.When Trump insists that he won the November election he probably genuinely believes that.His mind does not allow him to accept the possibility that he could lose.

He gave plenty of warning of his condition when he ran for president in 2016. In the primary debates he said many times he could not imagine he would not be the chosen candidate and as the general election approached he openly declared he would not respect the result unless he won. If he lost, he said, it would mean the result was rigged.

So nothing he has said or done since November has been a surprise. No matter how many judges rejected his groundless allegation of electoral fraud, including judges he has appointed, Trump remains genuinely convinced he won.And now we have seen what can happen when that conviction is brought to bear on a crowd that wants to believe he is right.

When narcissistic delusions are promoted by a natural entertainer it is a potent combination. Trump is a danger to democracy, capable, as we have seen, of undermining the most crucial element of a democratic culture – people’s confidence in the electoral process.

An unhealthy proportion of Republican voters have said they believe the election was rigged, many more than answered Trump’s call to march on Congress 10 days ago when the results were officially accepted. Trump is dangerous, the question now is what to do about him.

Silencing him is not the answer, it never is. Denied access to social media he is probably wealthy enough to build his own platform.Possibly he plans to do so now anyway.It would have compulsive following far beyond his supporters.

Impeaching him at the last minute is probably not the answer, either, though it would be wise to find a way to stop him running again. An inability to accept an adverse election result should be a disqualification.

Democrats have to be careful now. They have won the White House and, just as remarkably, last week they won Georgia to give them control of the Senate. But all the races were close. It is not known how deeply Trump has discredited himself. He is not going away.

He will remain in media that suit his skills somewhat better than public administration. If he can’t run for office again he will continue to bring his support to bear on those who do, if he can. He will be helped immeasurably if a Democratic Congress and liberal mass media make a martyr of him in the eyes of his supporters.

The last thing Democrats should be doing is exaggerating what he has done. Their impeachment charge, “incitement of insurrection”, rather overstates what we saw on television 10 days ago.

Having forced their way into the building, the mob appeared to have no purpose beyond cavorting around, trashing an office, taking selfies and waving their flags. Then they left, allowing the Congress to convene and accept the states’ election results.

The mob succeeded only in giving the public (and prosecutors) some faces that populate dark places on the web. And what idiots they showed themselves to be. As for Trump, he probably envisaged only a march on the Capitol that might ensure Republicans inside did his bidding.

America normally honours an outgoing President with poignancy on Inauguration Day.After the swearing-in on the Capitol steps the new President and First Lady escort the departing couple to the presidential helicopter, which slowly rises and disappears into the distance carrying them out of public life.

Trump does not want to attend Joe Biden’s Inauguration next week, to everyone’s relief. It remains to be seen how he leaves office but all that matters now is that he never returns.

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