How far is Trump willing to go?

Strap in. This might be a very long two weeks. 

Too little, too late.
Too little, too late.AFP

Berlin-Early in President Trump’s tenure, American comedian Marc Maron said it best: I knew the Trump presidency would be bad, but I didn’t know it would be nuclear war bad. And while the nuclear war part is hyperbole, Wednesday was the kind of bad he’s talking about.

The one constant during President Trump’s tenure has been his ability to surprise – he always goes one or two steps further than seemed possible. He doesn’t just meet with dictators. He praises them in public.

When it comes time to exercise an absurd presidential privilege and pardon a few people, he doesn’t just free white collar criminals and off-kilter buddies - like so many presidents before him - he pardons war criminals and racist police officers.

And when it comes time to tell his supporters that they have gone too far and that those breaking the law and halting the work of a democratically elected body will be found and prosecuted, he instead says he loves them, agrees with their anger and asks them to leave.

Keep up the good work, is what he seemed to be saying. And when that good work is halting the work of a democratically elected body, then that advice sounds a lot like treason.

I have rolled my eyes thousands of times over the last four years at the left’s continual outrage over the Trump administration. It was often ill-placed, but elected American officials are now right in beginning the proceedings to remove President Trump from office before his term expires in two weeks.

Though they will be unsuccessful, a theoretical line needs to be drawn and having some machinery in place is important because we don’t know how far he will go – and we already know that his specialty is going too far.

Make no mistake – he does not have the ability to stay in office beyond Biden's inauguration on 20 January because the American democracy is larger than him, but what are his plans until then? He could make unlimited, unhinged pardons, embolden yet another crowd of violent hooligans or even cause physical harm to the White House.

Law enforcement took hours to respond.

I would have mocked anyone making those comments 24 hours ago. Now it all seems plausible if not even very likely.

But yesterday not only unveiled President Trump’s desperation, it also highlighted the systemic racism in law enforcement in the US.

Police officers in our capital were happy to show up in excessive numbers to intimidate Black Lives Matters protestors this summer and even shoved and tear gassed peaceful protestors out of the way so President Trump could hold a bible upside down in front of a church for journalists.

But those officers yesterday seemed unwilling to do much other than watch in curiosity as protestors – sporting war paint and clutching symbols of America’s racist past – ransacked offices and posed for selfies in the literal seats of American power. Even if they were ill-prepared and out-manned, law enforcement took hours to respond and then did little more than stand around.

The mere handful of arrests made Wednesday does not make me optimistic that the criminals who flooded into the capitol during the siege will face much – if any – prosecution.

Despite what President Trump and his supporters want to believe, November’s election was not flawed. In many ways it looked like one of the best we’ve had as election offices finally had to embrace the future and allow vote-by-mail, sparking record turnout. The innumerable legal challenges also demonstrated the system’s internal mechanisms and highlighted their effectiveness.

Joe Biden will become America’s 46th president on 20 January and though I’m nervous about what President Trump will do until then, I’m not worried about what President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will do when they take office. In fact, I’m confident that their tenure will be dull for a media used to Trump’s hijinks and a disappointment to the political left hoping for change.

But at least it will be a normal level of disappointment.