History and fiction are replete with examples of what to do with fallen, but still potentially dangerous rulers with popular support.
The central question, whether in the first exile of Napoleon Bonaparte or in the noisy death of an Anglo-Saxon at the hands of the Danes in the series “The Last Kingdom” (Netflix), is the cost-benefit ratio of creating a martyr.
Fortunately for Donald Trump, they live in 2021. Right now, the most on the table is the possibility of being prevented and losing his political rights. Gallows, rolling head, guts on the ground, quite simply symbolic.
But the possible chemical castration of the political animal Trump evokes fears of Elba syndrome, the island on which the French leader exiled himself after seeing Europe rise against its yoke in 1814.
In less than a year, Napoleon is back in France and brings down his opponents. He was eventually stopped by the defeat of the British at Waterloo and sent to another island, Saint Helena, where he died. But the lesson remained on what to do with unruly leaders.
This leads to the dilemma that permeates the Democrats’ express movement for Trump’s impeachment, which began a week after Joe Biden took office.
It’s not a question of merit: The role of the current president in attacking a maddened crowd on Capitol Hill last week seems indisputable, an action that left five people dead. The question is when to punish.
The landmark letter issued by all U.S. military leaders condemning the attack on Congress and affirming their commitment to serving Biden proved that if Trump wanted to carry out a coup, he forgot to agree with the Russians ( inevitable joke).
Most Republicans say they are against punishing Trump. There are two calculations here.
One is that of the supporters. The president had more than 120 Republican votes in the House of Representatives for the suggestion to melt the election – triggering confusion.
When these people see the boss going to the scaffold, he invokes the 75 million votes he held and suggests that the best way to avoid further confusion is to let him go to a golf course in peace.
Among these are those who wish to inherit the Trumpist legacy, and the aforementioned voters, to form consistent opposition to Biden and reclaim the White House in 2024.
Another group is that of the true allies, who want everything with Trump at the helm as a force to unite such a movement. The president has played this way on several occasions, in a late incarnation of another controversial Republican, Richard Nixon.
Vice-President from 1953 to 1961, Nixon embarked on his aggressive policy of cultural warfare, anabolized by Trump, after being defeated in the 1960 election by John F. Kennedy. He returned devoted to the 1968 election and ruled until his resignation, following the Watergate scandal of 1974.
All the while, Nixon has been there, surrounding the political world. Only the true American tradition of the 20th century was different, that of the ex-president who withdraws from the front.
Trump wants to break with that and guarantee free will to the American, in reference to the movement that called for the return to power of dictator Getúlio Vargas after his fall in 1945. Five years later he was elected president – he has was killed in 1954, but that’s another story.
In the fantasy of the nativists who invaded the Capitol, there is a revolution in sight happening from the party, the military and friendly social networks. These forces will obviously remain relevant, and this is fueling the case for the beheading of the movement.
In opposition to these stakeholders and allies, there are Republicans who can support impeachment. The most notable of them, according to reports in Washington, is Senate Leader Mitch McConnell. He would be “fed up and furious,” the same sources say for all American media.
They, like big shots of the recent past like Dick Cheney, are across the counter. These are people who never tolerated the invasion of the “outsider” during the 2016 campaign and then covered their noses.
They want to regain control of the Republican Party. It will be a fierce fight, already engaged with Trump with political rights or not.
On the Democratic side, Biden wisely left the sharpening of knives to Democrats on Capitol Hill. He needs to move away from the idea that he sponsored or supported action against Trump out of tactical necessity: not to totally oppose those 75 million.
If you’re hoping to get a fraction of those people back for some kind of center, that already seems highly unlikely. But at least in rhetoric, the president-elect knows he must call for such a national union if he does not want to start his mandate with the National Guard in the streets.
Maybe it’s just out of fear, obviously. Leaders like Trump and his disciple Jair Bolsonaro, who is already repeating a similar scenario for 2022, often play with the impression that they elicit greater loyalty than the real ones.
Like any idol with feet of clay, Trump had better be left alone in the eyes of his opponents. Without a platform and banned by opportunist social networks, which have never complained about the audience he offered them, he will be able to speak into a vacuum and escape.
Apparently, the political world in Washington is not ready to pay this bet, at the risk of having to treat him as a martyr to the hordes of the 6th.