During the swearing-in ceremony for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in Washington yesterday, one name was not mentioned, that of Donald J. Trump.
The 45th president “was conspicuous by his absence”, as the saying goes.
Tradition would have liked it to be there. In 2017, in front of the Capitol, he himself celebrated it in clear terms: “Every four years, we meet in this place to proceed to an orderly and peaceful transition of power.”
Great slayer of his predecessor – whom he attacked with disgusting bad faith – Trump had taken the trouble, on the rostrum, to express his gratitude to “President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama” by stressing “their precious help and caring throughout this transition. They have proven to be wonderful. ”
In 2020, out of pride, he chose to shamelessly violate these magnificent principles, traditions and conventions that he had yet hailed four years earlier.
His absence, however, had advantages; she saved us from obsessing over her facial expressions and reactions during the ceremony and from thinking about the Biden era that was opening up for the United States.
Besides, “to shine” by its absence does not appear to be the ideal expression here. Perhaps we should speak of “obscuring by its absence”.
Yesterday’s ceremony illustrated an attempt to destroy politics. The 45th President of the United States embodying the dark side. The vulgarity proud of itself, the lack of class, dignity, loyalty, the anger, the hatred of adversaries always turning into “enemies”.
But perhaps more toxic still, in a democracy: this contemporary temptation with the beautiful ideal of truth, which President Trump has tirelessly undermined.
As proof, his some 30,000 listed lies, his “alternative facts”, his “North Korean” overvaluation of each of his actions, his shameless promotion of the most ridiculous conspiracy theories and the most despicable groups.
In his speech, Joe Biden rightly urged Americans to reject this culture of manipulation of facts, even of inventing facts. Of course, it’s easier said than done (as Emmanuelle Latraverse pointed out yesterday at LCN).
In 2016, the beginning of the Trump era made us realize that we had entered a “post-factual” era.
– That of social media, which locks us in our niches of interest, our echo chambers.
– That of ubiquitous screens, which immerse us in images, representations of things, cutting us off from contact with other human beings.
– That of the manipulation of images, and soon hypertrucages, these processes of “audiovisual manipulation which uses deep learning algorithms to create ultra-realistic special effects”.
This is the great challenge for all current democracies.
In the United States, Trump has stepped down from power. It should help. But tens of millions of Americans voted for him. Hopefully the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6 threw off a good chunk of it. And that an impeachment procedure will further weaken it.
Because here, Trump seems to want to take a kind of bush, enter into “resistance”. Its shadow will continue to hover.