There must be peaceful transition of power in the US

January 10, 2021 | 07:30 pm PT
Gregory Dolezal
The whole world was watching once again as U.S. President Donald Trump incited a violent attempt to prevent Congress from certifying the results of the election.

Pro-Trump rioters looted the Capitol building, paraded around with Confederate flags and other white supremacist symbols and occupied House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office.

The people killed in the violence included a police officer and an Alabama man who tased himself to death while vandalizing the house.

Peaceful demonstrations in the summer of 2020 were met with heavily armed police and the military, while the MAGA rioters were allowed to waltz in and some guards even posed for selfies with the people they should have stopped.

There were also far fewer arrests during what was an orchestrated attempt at disrupting the government, although a nationwide manhunt is underway for the violent Trump supporters who broke federal laws.

This assault on the Capitol did not prevent Congress from certifying the results, but it led to the kind of chaos and destruction of our civil society that so many of his supporters had hoped for. Nearly 45 percent of Republicans supported the MAGA mob's acts of sedition.

Over the last four years there has been increasingly violent behavior from Trump's most ardent supporters starting with the White supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville and escalating with the occupation of the Michigan state house and attempted kidnapping of Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

These acts were tests which emboldened the most dangerous elements in Trump’s base to engage in treasonous acts of violence to maintain power.

What's worse is that despite Trump losing his Twitter account and other social media channels which he has used to stir hate and resentment, and spread thoroughly debunked lies about voter fraud, there are now right-wing domestic terrorist groups planning to occupy state capitols on inauguration day on January 20 in Washington D.C.

I can only hope that the police and troops who are assigned to ensure a peaceful transition of power will have better leadership and preparedness to prevent an actual coup by pro-Trump militants like the Proud Boys, whom he invited to create mischief.

I also hope they are loyal to the Constitution and the duly elected government.

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump protest in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, January 6, 2020. Photo by Reuters.

Supporters of U.S. President Donald Trump protest in front of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, January 6, 2020. Photo by Reuters.

In the entire history of the United States, the only time the Capitol had been breached was during the war of 1812 by the British. Even during the American Civil War, a Confederate flag never came near it.

On the heels of a Republican loss of the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives for the first time since Herbert Hoover, a one-term president, suffered such a loss at the onset of the Great Depression, Trump took to Twitter and spoke in front of his loyalists and encouraged them by repeating lies about the integrity of the election.

A peaceful transition of power from one administration to another is no longer something we can take for granted at least for now.

In 2000, when George W. Bush was selected president by the Supreme Court, which ordered the counting of ballots in Florida to stop, a state we now know Al Gore won, the Democrats accepted the outcome and Gore himself presided over the certification of the electoral college vote and famously gave an historic call for unity.

Likewise in 2008 Republican John McCain delivered a concession speech full of soaring rhetoric about the peaceful transition of power and the will of the people being observed.

We’ve come a long way since then.

It was more than 13 years ago that I left the United States to explore for South Korea and gain international experience. Since then, after spending time in Laos, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, and now Vietnam I have come to realize that my home has changed in ways that make it hard to recognize.

Maybe everyone who has spent significant time far from their country experiences the reverse culture shock and some disorienting moments trying to readjust.

For my entire life it was unthinkable that, power hungry as the opposition was, they would not follow the democratic norms which have guided the country through 45 peaceful transitions of power.

Among the norms, values and customs that are held deeply in our culture is the idea that when a leader is chosen through a fair election we must honor and accept that choice.

When 12 Republican members of the Senate contested the fair election of Joe Biden purely because a charismatic media personality sold them an alternative view of reality, a precedent was set that endangers the system.

If Trump and his followers get away with this insurrection, it opens the door to future results being blocked purely because the current administration does not like the outcome.

I realize that in Vietnam Trump is popular because of his bravado toward China, but people should ask themselves if it is worth the cost of his empty promises and destabilizing effect in the region.

In fact, his tough rhetoric is not backed by actual policy, which has remained relatively constant through the past few administrations. The only thing differentiating past presidents from the current one is Trump’s bluster and messaging.

I am happy living in Vietnam, a country full of opportunity, free from Covid-19 and a place where I have felt very welcome. I do love my country – that’s why I work hard to support leaders who help our society progress rather than regress to a time when only white men of means had a voice.

I am counting the days until Trump is gone and pray there will be no more loss of life or damage to the ideals of our country, which is made of people from every country in the world.

We need him gone to defeat Covid-19 and restore some kind of normalcy like we are blessed to have here in Vietnam.

I hope the next attempt at a coup will also fail, but after last week’s events it’s hard to predict what will happen. As Congress considers a second impeachment and removing Trump from office, my only wish is to see him face justice so that we can stop a future strongman before he inflicts this kind of pain.

Trump’s refusal to recognize Biden as president-elect and incitement of violence must stop and the peaceful transition of power must be completed.

*Gregory Dolezal is an American living in HCMC. The opinions expressed are his own.

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