The day that felt like it would never come has arrived at last. He’s finally gone. For years, it felt like We the People would be subjected to endless rule by a morally bankrupt president. On some days, it seemed like Trump would use his powers of shiftiness to remain in the White House forever, existing on an infinite loop of bungles, brags, lies and general reprehensibility. His smug face forever staring at us through any number of screens: A fate worse worse than being trapped in a cave with Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi. But alas, it was not to be. The world’s most hated man-child couldn’t slip out of this one, and now it feels like Christmas morning across the world. I’m a happy child again: My fingers are tingling, my mind is racing in disbelief. Could it be that our national prison sentence is finally over? Are we able, at long last, to rid ourselves of this spray-tanned hide of a man who inexplicably inspired a religious-like following?
The answer, as of 7:45 p.m. on Nov. 7, is a resounding yes. Yes, in the sense that we can at least begin ridding ourselves of him, now that the AP has named Joe Biden the 46th president of the United States. Trump will remain in office until mid-January, and the next two months will be fraught with court cases addressing what Trump has deemed “illegal votes” for Biden — votes that, if we were to believe the president, cost him the election. This statement seems to be, like most of the things that come out of his mouth, completely false. Pundits — both Republican and Democrat — insist that he doesn’t have a legal leg to stand out. It’ll be a messy divorce, for sure, but once the convulsions are over, Donald John Trump will no longer be the president of the United States. He may continue to shout nonsense from his Twitter account, he may still rile up his supporters with vitriol-filled rants on Fox and Friends, but he’ll no longer be shouting as the leader of the free world. He’ll be nothing more than a former faux strongman who led one of the most bigoted, ungraceful and hate-filled political movements in modern American history. He’s an embarrassing mistake on our country’s timeline, a failed one-term president who gorged himself on chaos, a soulless narcissist who governed only to his nihilistically loyal base. He is one of the most unsympathetic characters of our time. May he fade into nothing.
He may continue to shout nonsense from his Twitter account, he may still rile up his supporters with vitriol-filled rants on Fox and Friends, but he’ll no longer be shouting as the leader of the free world. He’ll be nothing more than a former faux strongman who led one of the most bigoted, ungraceful and hate-filled political movements in modern American history.
His demise was never a foregone conclusion. As results started rolling in on election night, the mood in he Biden camp was understandably tense. Pre-election polls that showed the former vice president winning by 10-12 points were wildly inaccurate, as Trump mounted an early advantage and then won the state of Florida, which Biden hoped to flip blue — like it was during the Obama years. As Nov. 3 turned into Nov. 4, Trump and Biden were neck-and-neck, with no clear winner in sight. Yet Trump’s early competitiveness, which bolstered the confidence of his supporters, turned out to be the Red Mirage that many journalists had predicted. The polling had been embarrassingly inaccurate, that much was true, but the Red Mirage — this idea that Trump would appear to be winning early on, before the heavily-Democratic mail-in ballots were counted — panned out just as expected. Trump led by such a substantial margin on election night that he called a press conference around 2:30 in the morning to declare himself the winner. This was foolish — dangerous, even — yet it was an undoubtedly calculated move that allowed him to claim, once the Blue Surge began, that the election was being stolen. Biden proceeded to erase deficits in, among other states, Michigan, Georgia and most importantly Pennsylvania, which was officially called for Biden Saturday afternoon, giving him the electoral votes needed to surpass the 270 threshold. Trump, of course, claimed that Biden’s late-inning push was fraud on a grand scale, and on Friday night a dejected-looking president held a press conference so pregnant with lies and misinformation that all three major news networks — ABC, NBC and CBS — cut away from the speech to perform fact-checking in real time. Anderson Cooper called the president an “obese turtle on his back flailing in the hot sun,” which may be the greatest sentence ever uttered by a news anchor. That obese turtle hasn’t stopped flailing in the subsequent days, Tweeting “I WON THIS ELECTION, BY A LOT!” Saturday morning and claiming, in so many words, that all of the heavily-Democratic mail-in votes were illegal. Never mind that mail-in ballots being overwhelmingly blue was a completely understandable phenomenon, considering Trump himself has been casting doubt on the mail-in process for months, an approach that certainly influenced his supporters to either vote in-person or refrain from voting at all. But the Trump campaign has never been interested in logic. All it cares about is spreading self-aggrandizing propaganda, and winning at all costs — even if “at all costs” means trying to stop the counting of perfectly legal votes or calling the entire electoral process a sham despite a complete lack of evidence to this point. As dangerous as Trump’s words and actions have been since it became clear he would lose this election, there’s been a pleasant sort of schadenfreude in watching him thrash about in his warped delusions while reality crashes down around him. It’s akin to witnessing the fall of an evil Roman emperor — an obese evil Roman emperor with a bad case of ADD and a chronic addiction to fast food.
It should be noted that I’m drinking red wine as I write this, so I apologize if my words are more emotional or prickly than usual. A drink seemed necessary to celebrate perhaps a return to a better America, a more respectable America, a more inclusive America. But failing all of that, I’m toasting to an America that, at bare minimum, will no longer legitimize white nationalists and baseless conspiracy theories about Democratically-run child sex rings. I harbor no illusions about Biden being some kind of savior-type figure. We the people aren’t asking that much of him, really, we just want a president who isn’t completely out of touch with reality. And as I enjoy this wine, which is sweet with the right amount of tartness, I’m watching Biden give his victory speech from Wilmington, Delaware, where a group of mostly-masked supporters are honking their approval from the comfort of their cars, a safety measure put in place because of the pandemic. It’s surreal to see Biden standing in front of the nation as president-elect, considering few people would have expected him to be here nine months ago. He was dead in the water during the beginning stages of the Democratic primary, finishing fourth in Iowa, fifth in New Hampshire and a distant second in Nevada before winning South Carolina and subsequently cruising to the nomination. Those of us rooting for Trump’s downfall were nervous about Biden running against a notoriously ruthless narcissist, because Biden — at 77 years old — isn’t as sharp as he once was. We were concerned about senior moments, about embarrassing gaffes, about how he might appear senile and thus gift the presidency to the Bad Orange Man.
But none of that happened. Not in any meaningful sense, anyway. Biden, against all odds, ran a steady campaign. After a few sips of wine one feels inclined to call it an excellent campaign. Sure, he tripped up here and there. He told black people that they weren’t truly black if they didn’t vote for him — which is an extraordinarily stupid thing for an aspiring president to say. But even during that tense first debate, in which Trump ran his mouth like a schoolgirl high on Mountain Dew in an attempt to rile up Biden’s infamous temper, the Democratic nominee wasn’t deterred. Biden didn’t steal the show with Obama-esque oration — that’s something he’ll never do — but he kept his composure and refrained from committing a catastrophic slip-up. And in the weeks after the debate, while Trump was further dividing the country by yammering on about COVID-19 being overrated and Biden being a socialist and how the impending election was going to be a total fraud, the former vice president stayed on message. Unity over division. Let’s take back the soul of the nation. That pie-in-the-sky, idealistic sort of stuff. One can question the authenticity of Biden’s words, sure, but it was undoubtedly the perfect play at the perfect time, especially for a folksy centrist candidate such as himself. A plain duality. Trump = division. Biden = unity. Genius in its simplicity, and ultimately a winning strategy.
Biden is delivering this message of togetherness to the nation tonight, as this wine goes down smooth (for me and, I’m sure, many others) and car horns honk in the parking lot. It hasn’t been a perfect speech — indeed, Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, the first female, first black and first Asian-American vice president, was decidedly more well-spoken — but he’s getting the point across, and the truth of the matter is that most Americans are simply relieved to see anyone other than Trump standing behind the podium. “Let this grim era of demonization in America begin to end here and now,” Biden said a few minutes ago, in what will probably be the most memorable line from an otherwise decent speech. Several minutes later, the president-elect ended his monologue and fireworks lit up the Delaware sky, as tens of millions of people across the country took a collective deep breath for the first time in four years. The black cloud began to lift. The Don was sitting in the White House, perhaps eating a McDouble in his boxers, while someone other than himself celebrated victory, and did so with a relative dignity that Trump himself knows nothing about. It was gratifying to watch.
So goodbye, Don. History will not be kind to you. You have sowed so much hate during your single lousy term that it’ll take years for the country to return to relative stasis — if we get there at all.
So goodbye, Don. History will not be kind to you. You have sowed so much hate during your single lousy term that it’ll take years for the country to return to relative stasis — if we get there at all. You brought out the absolute worst in our national character, gave us the implicit (and sometimes explicit) permission to act in crass and deplorable ways that would’ve seemed unsightly before your scorched-Earth reign. These ways of acting were unsightly while you were in office, too, of course, but you somehow made people feel comfortable in their debasedness, content in indulging the ugliest sides of their personalities. And for this, I thank you. Your nastiness writ large exposed these folks for who they truly are, and there will be no going back behind the curtain for them. You’ll leave office (perhaps kicking and screaming, if it comes to that), do whatever it is you’re going to do post-presidency (angrily Tweet, I assume, while suing people, and perhaps preparing for a presidential run in 2024), and hopefully fade away as a generally despised figure. But years down the road, some of your supporters will have kids who grow to a certain age and learn about the chaos you stirred up in this great country. These kids will undoubtedly ask their parents if they voted for you, and if so, how could they? Your supporters will have to look their children in the eyes and either lie to them or admit that, yes, they backed a man who bragged about committing sexual assault, mocked a disabled reporter, insulted honored veterans, tear-gassed peaceful protesters for a photo-op with a bible, called other countries “shitholes,” embraced authoritarian urges, rolled back a host of environmental regulations, and claimed to a win an election he so obviously lost. How do you think that’ll make them feel, Donald? Oh, who am I kidding? You don’t care about any of that stuff. You’ve never cared about anybody or anything but yourself. Good riddance, hideous beast. We don’t have to pay attention to you anymore.
The dream is always the same. I’m stuck in Mesa and it’s the last place I want to be. I’m trapped inside of an antique store filled with Mark McGwire bobbleheads. Staring. Judging. Flexing their muscles. The dream makes sense on some level, considering that, when I was younger, my mother and I went to … Continue reading “Fiction Pick: ‘Stuck in Arizona with the Low Hope Blues Again’”
Adios, Donny Boy. History will not be kind to you.
The most important election of this generation is upon us, and it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which the nation doesn’t plunge into mayhem.