For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind

I was watching the House of Representatives debating the challenge to the Electoral Votes from Arizona when there seemed to be a commotion going on. Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar was allowed to finish his 5-minute speech objecting to the results and then the house went into recess. C-Span then switched its coverage to a camera they had in Statuary Hall where a crowd of unruly, flag-waving people had managed to get into the building.

SAUL LOEB/AFP

It appears that as the Capitol Police became overwhelmed by the mob, they took the decision to re-deploy and protect the members of Congress rather than risk further violence. Eventually, they were re-inforced by the DC police, the buildings were cleared and Congress went back to the process of certifying the results of last November’s election.

A woman was shot and killed, one of the capital police offers was killed and 3 others died of medical emergencies as a result of the riot that was inspired, instigated, and egged on by Donald Trump.

What struck me most was the reaction of shock and surprise by Republican members of Congress who have supported Trump these past four years and have given credibility to his far fetched claims of massive election fraud. These same men and women had looked the other way as Donald Trump misused the power of his office, coddled up to dictators, and pitted Americans against each other. They had an opportunity to impeach Trump one year ago and did not take it. They had the opportunity to speak out against his lies and conspiracy theories in November but either stayed silent or respected his right to challenge the outcome of the election in the courts.

All of this time they either acted out of their own self-interest, fear of Trump and the mob he has created, or some twisted sense of their own unique role to play.

There was a moment during the election when some guys in pick up trucks tried to run the Biden-Harris campaign bus off the road in Texas. Trump’s response was to retweet a video of the event and wrote: “I Love Texas”. Far from condemning the attack, other Republican politicians were either silent or actually supported it.

In her last comments as a Senator,  Kelly Loeffler appeared deeply shaken by the attack on the capital and chose not to join other Senators in rejecting the results from some states. Ms. Loeffler, however, tried to tap into the same angst in the electorate in her native Georgia in her Senate runoff against the Reverand Raphael Warnock which she lost by 75,000 votes.

Yesterday it seemed she and a number of her colleagues finally understood the forces they have unleashed.

Globalization, digitalization, and the transition to a knowledge economy have not benefitted Americans equally. The frustration that the world is too complex, too scary, and way too digital fueled Trump’s rise but is not his doing.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla)

Joe Biden’s vision of building back better and using the transition to a low carbon economy as a massive jobs program may help to heal the wounds of the last four years.

The problem is that there are a number of Republican politicians who seem intent on carrying on Trump’s legacy. Senators Ted Cruz (Texas) and Josh Hawley (Missouri) knew that their challenges to the election results would not change the outcome of the procedural process that confirmed Biden’s victory yesterday. By supporting Trump now, they hope to get his supporters to support them in the next presidential election cycle.

These men will continue to appeal to the worst aspects of the American psyche. The problem with playing to the mob is that can be fickle and unpredictable.

2 thoughts on “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind

  1. Sad, shocking & scary Mike. My thoughts are with all my American friends.
    Globalisation has a lot to answer for, positive and negative – but business truly has to address the factors that drove people feel disenfranchised and thus vote for Trump, Brexit etc. Let’s hope Covid is truly the opportunity to ‘build back better’ a fairer and better capitalism – long term and stakeholder focused. Thankfully there are signs of a growing and mainstream consciousness about this, especially now that the finance community is getting behind the ESG movement, with some leading academics on the case, eg Oxford’s Colin Mayer, Harvard’s Rebecca Henderson. And IESE has been on the case for years!
    Enjoy your blogs, as someone who is into strategy and geo-politics – keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks, Mike. What also struck me is the interaction between leaders – the enabling that you mention. We have seen this at Enron, the 2008 financial meltdown, and elsewhere. For me, there is leadership – and then a higher level of “courageous leadership” speaking truth to power and modeling the leadership behaviors we would want a 5-year old to see.

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