Wednesday, 6th January, 2021

[Day 296]

Today was quite a fine bright day but we were somewhat delayed whilst I updated my Waitrose order this morning (a job for every Wednesday morning for the foreseeable future). We collected our newspapers and made our way to one of our two favourite seats overlooking the boating lake? duck pond? which is a feature of our local park. On one of our customary benches, we struck up a conversation with a chap we recognised from our past ventures in the park. We started off our chat with each other by comparing our (very similar) stainless steel thermos flasks – and then the state of our walking boots! One thing led to another and we discovered that we had quite a lot in common as our new found friend had recently retired as a lecturer from the University of Birmingham. As it happened, I had with me in my wallet some details of my email, websites etc. so I handed one of these over so that we could keep in touch by email, if we wanted. We promised ourselves a beer together when the circumstances allow – which may be months off yet but it is always nice to have something to which to look forward. We were a little late home and we had to have a fairly swift midday meal because we had a video call scheduled with one of Meg’s therapists in the early afternoon. We got the video call up and running after an initial hitch and then had an interesting and fruitful conversation which took us up to our afternoon teatime.

In the middle of the night, I was following the election results from the two Senate races in Georgia. These are absolutely critical because were the Democrats to win the two seats, then the Senate would be effectively tied at 50:50. However, in the event of a tie, the Vice President automatically has the casting vote and as the VP elect is Kamala Harris, Joe Biden’s VP elect, then ‘de facto’ control of the Senate passes from the Republicans to the Democrats. This has enormous significance because, in the past, the Republican Senate majority had the ability to block any progressive legislation and Biden’s presidency would have been ‘cut off at the knees’ at the start. But with control of the Senate, as well as the House of Representatives, then President-elect Biden has the opportunity to press on with such issues as the fight against the COVID-19 virus, the measures to pursue a green agenda to combat climate change and so on. I was following the election detail by detail as the various counties in Georgia reported and I found the websites of the New York Times and a political website called ‘FiveThirtyEight‘ particularly helpful and informative. These websites not only give up-to-date stats of the counts from the various counties as they are uploaded but also some expert and informed commentary. As I write, the Democrats have certainly won one of the seats and are within an ace of capturing the other one, with 98% of the vote counted and the remaining vote to be delivered from areas that were largely black (in or around Atlanta ) and likely 85%-15% to split for the Democrats.

Tonight, as I started to blog, I got an intimation that Donald Trump’s supporters had stormed the Capital Building in which members of the Congress were trying to officially confirm the results of the election. I have to say never before have I watched TV news so open-mouthed as I saw the events in Washington DC unfold in front of me. Trump supporters had been all but encouraged to go and make their presence felt as they were protesting against what they thought was a stolen election. Donald Trump himself inflamed the crowd by suggesting that he had won by a landslide and the election was stolen from him by ‘false’ media and fraudulent Democrats! The very latest news that I have is that 1100 members of the National Guard (i.e. the military) have been sent in to support the local police together with an additional 200 members from Virginia. As Trump supporters almost to a man are armed to the teeth and evidently so are the National Guard then as the hours unfold it is possible that we see an armed shootout within the Capitol building. Members of the Trump mob can be seen wandering through the Rotunda and the New York Times have just published a photo of Nancy Pelosi’s (Democrat ‘Speaker’ of the House of Representatives) office being ransacked with a Trump ‘supporter’ replete with Stars and Stripes and his feet on Nancy Pelosi’s desk. The rest of the world is watching in amazement as ‘American democracy effecting the transition from one president to the next’ is beamed throughout the world. Is the end of Trumpism? Or will it completely fracture the Republican Party between Trump supporters and traditional Republicans who are absolutely horrified by what they see?