Trump’s acquittal marks a dark day for US democracy

Letters

Matt Minshall says the problem is party-first politics, while Daniel Peacock writes that Congress has failed to hold the president to account. Plus letters from Pete Stockwell and Magi Young

Donald Trump
‘If the US’s system of governance is unable to hold Trump to account for his attempt to overthrow the result of a fair and free election, its much-vaunted constitution is simply not fit for purpose.’ Photograph: EPA
‘If the US’s system of governance is unable to hold Trump to account for his attempt to overthrow the result of a fair and free election, its much-vaunted constitution is simply not fit for purpose.’ Photograph: EPA

Last modified on Mon 15 Feb 2021 11.44 EST

The deepest problem affecting the progress and development of democracy is the crippling dominance of party-first politics (Senate Republicans stand by their man and Trump wins his second acquittal, 13 February). It restricts the power of politicians to act in the best interests of their countries and their people.

The clear illustration of the power of party politics has been the trial of Donald Trump. Before the trial began, and ahead of any formal evidence being heard, the base of the Republican party had already decided the outcome. Thus, the verdict of one of the most politically important trials in history was given based on party dogma and not on the evidence, nor in the interests of the country.

Countries around the world with similarly blinkered party systems will also be rejuvenated. This will be embraced by the Victorian-era-entrenched Conservative party in the UK, which will be enabled to continue and extend its oligarchic rule which is swiftly becoming a kakistocracy.

Party politics should reflect the will of an ever-changing society. It has, however, become the greatest barrier to progress and fairness. Until politicians are selected solely on ability, rather than party loyalty and populism, democracy will exist only in name and civilised evolution will stagnate and devolve.
Matt Minshall
Batz-sur-Mer, Brittany, France

The second acquittal of Donald Trump by the US Senate represents a profoundly dark and dangerous moment for American democracy. The message is clear. No conduct, be it inviting foreign powers to interfere in an election or fomenting violence to overthrow its result, is sufficiently abhorrent to permanently bar a candidate from holding public office. It now falls to the justice department and state prosecutors to succeed where Congress has failed and hold Trump truly accountable. If they do not, the US need only wait for the next attempt to subvert its democracy.
Daniel Peacock
New Moston, Manchester

Most Republican senators did not honour their oath to “do impartial justice”, but voted politically instead. If the US’s system of governance is unable to hold Trump to account for his attempt to overthrow the result of a fair and free election, its much-vaunted constitution is simply not fit for purpose.
Pete Stockwell
London

Jonathan Freedland is (almost) completely right (Acquitting Trump would spell grave danger for US democracy, 12 February). However, he errs in his report of Donald Trump’s relationship with violence and the rule of law. Trump had not been “whipping up his supporters for nearly a year”. His incitement to violence and failure to accept election results began before he stood as president in 2016, and continued throughout his term.

At rallies as long ago as 2015, Trump was encouraging violence against his opponents. His tolerance of violence and recognition of its attraction to a section of his base was confirmed when he said, in January 2016, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters”. Even before the 2016 election he refused to confirm that he would accept the result, raising rigged elections.

The events of 6 January were entirely foreseeable and consistent with the Trump we saw from 2015. The Republican party knew exactly who Trump was when they nominated him for president and then enabled him throughout his term and beyond.
Magi Young
Exeter