Editorial:Trump's attempt to force party members to show loyalty

【明報專訊】Before the inauguration of the President of the US, which will take place on January 20, there are still some routine procedures to be completed to confirm the winners. In the middle of last month, electors in each state cast their electoral votes for the two candidates according to their local vote counts, and on Wednesday (January 6) a joint meeting of the House and Senate will count all the electoral votes and Vice President Mike Pence, who will preside over the meeting, will officially announce the winner. It is no longer in doubt that Biden will take office, but for the past month or so, the Trump camp has still been trying to exploit loopholes in the routine procedure and has resorted to ''tricks'' to subvert the democratic election results.

Trump's right-wing populist operations have made him widely supported by conservative whites. Trump is proud of his ability to attract votes, and although he is about to step down, he still wants to maintain his political influence and to take advantage of the populists to call the shots in the Republican Party. This way he can avoid being purged for abusing his power during his term of office and look ahead to the 2024 election. He can also turn his political capital into a source of personal wealth, and to make a fortune through paid speeches and so on. Trump's many unconscionable moves after the election are actually a test of Republican dignitaries' political loyalty and an attempt to maintain control of the party. Asking party members to publicly agree to his claim of ''election fraud'' is just one of them.

The political horse-trading in Washington has become more and more confusing lately, and sometimes it is not clear who are on the same side. For example, the National Defence Authorisation Act, a bill that has been a sure-fire piece of legislation for decades, passed the House and Senate by large margins across party lines. But Trump, citing a host of specious ''reasons'', exercised his veto power. Ultimately the Republican-controlled Senate overrode the president's decision by an overwhelming margin to ensure the bill, which has to do with national security, will take effect.

In response to Trump's allegations of ''election fraud'', Pence, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other prominent Republicans have largely kept Trump at arm's length, stressing the need for fair elections without explicitly endorsing the fraud claim. Trump has long complained that they have not done enough to overturn the election for him, but some of his recent ''loyalty tests'' have reached the point where he is acting arbitrarily, ignoring the national interest and forcing the Republican Party to bend the knee to him. It is inevitable that some people have refused to co-operate.

Under a democratic system, political parties need to strive for political power in order to achieve development. But they also need to know the political art of compromise, and some policy positions will inevitably be adjusted as times change. The Republican Party of the US during the era of Abraham Lincoln in the 19th century was very different from the Republican Party of the 20th century. However, in order for a political party to stand on its own, it must grow a spine and cannot just go with the flow all the time. The current Republican Party is being corroded by the sugar-coated poison of right-wing populism, and opportunists are in charge, each with their own agenda. The way this century-old brand moves forward will have a significant impact on the political ecology of American democracy.

明報社評 2021.01.04:特朗普逼黨人「表忠」 投機政客阿諛奉承






■/ Glossary 生字 /

subvert /səbˈvɜːt/:to try to destroy the authority of a political, religious, etc. system by attacking it secretly or indirectly

call the shots:to be in the position of being able to make the decisions that will influence a situation

spine /spaɪn/:courage or determination


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