Amid an audible and worldwide sigh of relief, this past 7 November 2020 the Alternative-Facts Republic – also known as the Donald Trump administration – received the diagnosis: it was terminally ill, having been voted out of the US government. Today, as Joe Biden took over, it passed away.
The Twitter-obsessed, twice-impeached administration will be remembered for its tremendous contribution to disinformation; for its many conflicted members who either quit, got fired or stand today as convicted criminals; for its proximity to far-right and associated militias; and for its disastrous handling of the COVID-19 pandemic that has so far killed more than 400,000 Americans.
The Alt-Facts Republic is dead, age four, but the polarisation and confusion that it fed off – and fuelled – is likely to live on, including the spectre of fabricated claims of voter fraud that could haunt democratic institutions for years.
This was perhaps best evidenced by the Alt-Facts-in-Chief’s incessant speeches and social media tirades promoting baseless claims that the 2020 election had been “stolen” – and the role that he played in encouraging protestors on 6 January who stormed the US Capitol building.
The administration will be missed by Qanon conspiracy theorists – those who believe that the Alt-Facts-in-Chief was sent by God to save mankind from an elite socialist paedophile ring in Washington DC. Also grieving are his supporters on Twitter who can no longer read his constant messages because the platform suspended his account after the events at the Capitol on 6 January.
This late account, which once showed heightened interest in Robert Pattinson’s love life, will be particularly remembered for its role in COVID-19 misinformation – as well as its characteristic typos and fondness for ALL CAPS.
Born in November 2016 to proud parents – the since-deceased Cambridge Analytica and hostile Russian interference – the Alt-Facts Republic was baptised four years ago today, on 20 January 2017. That day, it promised to make Mexico pay for a border wall to keep migrants away – which, to nobody’s surprise, never happened.
It was a very active baby – but also confusing in its infancy, a trait that would stay with it throughout its life, from oxymoronic descriptions of “alternative facts” to its favourite catchphrase with which to attack unfavourable press: “fake news”.
Its adolescence was marked by the payment of ‘hush money’ to hide an alleged adulterous encounter with adult entertainer Stormy Daniels. The Alt-Facts-in-Chief’s personal attorney of 11 years, Michael Cohen, is under house arrest, serving the remainder of a three-year prison sentence for charges related to the hush money.
The Alt-Facts Republic branded the investigation into possible collusion with Russia, led by former FBI director Robert Mueller, a “witch hunt” – and blamed it for its loss of control of the House of Representatives in 2018.
What the Alt-Facts Republic did not see as a factor for this loss was the national and international outcry sparked that year by its detention policy of migrant families entering the US-Mexico border to flee violence in their home countries. As recently as October, 545 children had still not been reunited with their parents.
By the beginning of its third year, the Alt-Facts Republic could count six members of its campaign team convicted of crimes including fraud and obstruction of justice – this includes the now-pardoned Roger Stone, who has links to the far-right Proud Boys, which was designated a “hate group” by the Southern Poverty Law Center, though he denies being a member.
Perhaps the Alt-Facts Republic could have cheated death were it not for its disastrous handling of the pandemic in its final year. The self-proclaimed “pro-life administration” oversaw more than 400,000 deaths, and millions of infections, from what it actually called the China Virus on the official page of the White House of the United States.
As Americans prepared for the November 2020 presidential election – one of the most awaited elections in recent memory – the Alt-Facts Republic began casting doubt over the results months before any votes were cast. In the end, it failed, but not before sowing more confusion and tension.
The specific causes of its death, however, are still under investigation. Did lies and distortion prompt its terminal illness? Or was it one of its many specific controversies, or an ultimately fatal combination of many things? A thorough autopsy must be performed to prevent inaccurate speculation. Because the Alt-Facts Republic is dead, and it’s time for some non-alternative facts.
The Trump administration died on 20 January 2021, but is survived by 147 elected representatives – lest we forget the two thirds of House of Representatives’ Republicans and one third of Republican senators who voted on 6 January 2021 to overturn the results of the 2020 democratic election.