BECAUSE our political system is borrowed from America and we have not outgrown our habit of aping what the Americans do, what is happening in the U.S. in the aftermath of their presidential election bears watching.
It is ugly beyond imagination. I have never seen anything like it in the Philippines and that says a lot since while American democracy has matured, ours is still a work in progress. They are actually on the verge of an insurrection!
We have worse and more violent post-election incidents in our country but in the entire history of the Republic, we have not had people invading Congress or the Comelec in an attempt to overturn the result of a presidential election. We saw that happen in Washington D.C. last week.
I watched with sadness the attack, as it unfolded, by a multitude of Donald Trump supporters on the Capitol early Thursday morning (Wednesday afternoon, their time) last week. That is the wonder of modern telecommunications: You can watch events happening across oceans from your own bedroom, real time.
But technology is double edged; it can also be a bane. It turned out that Twitter through which I kept myself abreast with developments in the rampage was also what enabled, along with other social media, Trump’s mob to gather and mount the attack.
When the late Miriam Defensor Santiago lost the presidential election to Fidel Ramos in 1992, she was certain that she had been cheated and screamed to high heavens about it. Santiago never conceded. But neither did she incite her followers to attack Congress during the presidential canvass.
Trump has not conceded to Joseph Biden until now, two months after the election. Instead, during those two months, Trump had his lawyers file numerous cases and pressured election officials to overturn his defeat. And when he failed (the courts dismissed the cases and State officials resisted the pressure), he played his last card, inciting his loyal followers to descend upon the Capitol where senators and House representatives were hammering the last nail on his failed reelection bid.
Following his not so subtle hint, they broke doors, smashed windows and gained entry to the Capitol. But they failed in their quest to gain four more years for their idol. Biden was proclaimed and will take his oath on Jan. 20.
In their wake, they left five people dead and government property destroyed. But the real damage was in the tattered image of the U.S.A. as epitome of the ideal modern democratic system and the true north of aspiring democracies.
They will most probably recover from this embarrassing episode and emerge stronger than ever. But can we if, God forbid, what happened to them will happen to us?
We have just witnessed blind loyalty, one that borders on cultism, strike the most powerful country in the world. May the curse of the cult be not upon us.