America has plunged off the precipice.
The Bastille-like storming of the US Capitol by a cretinous mob of Donald Trump fanatics was the predictable coda to a brutish presidency.
But the jarring bedlam the world witnessed on Wednesday is, I suspect, only the beginning. Over the next four years, the remaining shreds of American “democracy” may not just continue to unravel, but the whole rotten edifice could implode.
The suggestion that the anarchy on display simply represents the flickering embers of a diseased regime led by a mob boss-turned-president is not only a convenient evasion, but a comforting delusion.
America is coming undone.
There is no doubt that the thousands of Trump disciples who launched an insurrection at the so-called “citadel” of America’s centuries-old republic were joined, in spirit, by many millions more who, on November 3, reconfirmed their fealty to a fascist, rather than the constitution they pledge allegiance to with hand on heart.
It borders on lunacy to trust that Trump’s 74 million fellow insurgents will be swayed miraculously by President-elect Joe Biden’s halting, anachronistic appeals for “unity” and the illusory pursuit of America’s common good. It is not going to happen.
Instead, the toxic, entrenched brew of ignorance, demented conspiracy theories and belief in the righteousness of one messianic saviour that are, today, irrefutable and defining aspects of the virulent American political landscape will not only persist, but may prosper.
Soon-to-be “citizen” Trump and his large, extended family of loathsome sycophants and enablers will make sure of that – largely because these lifelong, unrepentant grifters know there are bushels of easy money to be made off of their horde of gullible marks. The foundation has been cast. The cement is well past dry. It is much too late to undo the deep damage done.
It would, however, be wrong and foolish to insist that Trump alone has been responsible for the near-fatal erosion of the legitimacy of the vaunted traditions and institutions that allegedly gird the frayed remnants of American democracy that were physically attacked.
The incontestable criminality of other presidents, including Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, and George W Bush, at home and abroad – from Watergate, the Iran-Contra scandal and the intractable, catastrophic, premeditated invasion of Iraq – surely combined, generations before the evolution of the fetid cesspool of Trumpism, to subvert the notion that the rule of law prevails in America.
Still, there was, of course, ample opportunity for Trump to be seriously confronted long before he and his equally culpable acolytes had their rabid swarm of Confederate flag-waving insurrectionists unleash their incoherent fury.
The names of the cowards who failed to abide by their supposed oath to protect and defend the US constitution and chose, out of rank, myopic careerism or political expediency to stand with and by a sick demagogue for more than four disfiguring years are all too familiar.
They stood with and by a hooligan who chortled that his wealth and celebrity afforded him the unfettered licence to grab women by the “p***y”. They stood with and by a hooligan who praised murderous, tiki-torch wielding white supremacists as “very fine people”. They stood with and by a hooligan who smeared a neighbour nation, a continent and millions of predominately Black children, women and men as residents of “s***hole” countries. They stood with and by a hooligan who ripped hundreds of migrant children from their parents and caged them. They stood with and by a hooligan who called a lethal, capricious virus a hoax concocted by his adversaries to deprive him of a second term. They stood with and by a hooligan who reached into recesses of his repugnant psyche to fashion a litany of lies about an election where 81 million Americans had repudiated him.
In the coming days, Trump’s collaborators may try to distance or dissociate themselves from the political and human abomination they provided unconscionable succour and sustenance to for so long. Some may even claim to have had a belated epiphany and resign after only now having recognised the malignant nature of the dangerous charlatan they obeyed unequivocally.
They must not be permitted to rewrite their sordid history of complicity, nor should they be congratulated for discovering a moral or ethical compass two weeks before their dear leader – it appears likely – will have to be forcibly removed from the Oval Office.
No, their forever sullied reputations must not be rehabilitated. They must be remembered for who and what they are: willing accomplices to an attempted coup d’état that was directed by the wicked president they faithfully served like fawning court jesters.
Insurrections – failed or successful – require confederates. And Trump’s confederates are legion, particularly in the sprawling network of rancid right-wing swindlers on TV and radio, abetted by the wilfully deaf, dumb and blind social media titans who happily platformed for profit Trump’s stupidity, crudity, bigotry, misogyny, racism and autocracy.
The neon-bright scarlet letter of infamy they all have thoroughly earned cannot be allowed to fade with time and from memory.
Whatever hope exists amid the darkness fast enveloping America rests with the army of enlightened Americans who understood the existential threat that Trump and his mephitic allies posed to their republic and were instantly seized with the imperative to resist.
They organised. They marched. They voted him out. They and they alone are the bulwark against the ruination of America.
I wish them well.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.