New Year’s Day in my corner of the world was wet and grim. The temperature was in the thirties, and rain fell on the unmelted snow. The freezing mix formed big slushy puddles, glazed the steps seditiously, left icicles on the downspouts. Gradually the trees and bushes sank under the weight of the ice forming on their boughs. The patio grew too dangerous to cross.
Then, after night fell at around 4:40, the ugly grey day morphed into a snowy night. The tree boughs, now brilliant with snow, arched lower. By 10pm, the branches of a birch tree taller than the house had drooped to within just a few feet of the ground! It was weird and beautiful. Stressful for the trees. I photographed them before going to bed, knowing I might never see the like again. At night, I heard a few too-heavy branches fall from somewhere, landing on the roof of the house with a thud.
I want to say “happy new year,” but it would be insincere. It’s impossible to greet this January with optimism, to pay lip service to the notion of “being better.” Mortal and political dangers lie immediately ahead, threatening to push the US, already battered from the numerous crises of 2020, into a state of irremediable catastrophe. What 2021 immediately demands is stamina, renewed vigilance against the coronavirus, and the guts to face down Trump-related threats to our government and national security.
Just as I went to bed the other night wondering whether the birch tree would snap in the night, so I wonder whether the government of the US will survive the week. Extraordinarily, in the next few days the pressures that have been building on the nation will culminate.
- This week, we will see whether Congress will allow Trump to destroy the United States or whether it will at last defy him, uphold the Electoral College, and be true to the will of the people and the Constitution.
- We will see whether Trump will win his struggle to control the Republican party or whether his efforts will produce an all-out schism.
- Will Mitch McConnell find a way to prevent the challenge to the Electoral College from going forward? Only if anti-Trump forces in the Senate find a way to avert the EC challenge will the Republican Party, as we know it, survive this week.
- Donald Trump’s conniving to hold on to an office he knows he lost is a self-interested quest that has nothing to do with his Constitutional duties. He is a criminal and a grave threat to national security. With the prospect of an ugly showdown in the House and Senate looming, calls for Trump’s impeachment or resignation are likely to grow.
Will the forces of good be strong enough to keep the nation from buckling under this week? The answer will come in the next 36 hours.