Is our ‘long national nightmare’ over or has it just begun?
By Anatole d’Ecotopia
Within minutes of Associated Press breaking the news, I began to receive phone calls and messages — some joyous, some expressing caution, but all expressing relief that, as Gerald Ford famously observed of another president who had overstayed his welcome, “Our long national nightmare is over”.
Except, of course… it isn’t.
At this writing, Donald Trump refuses to deliver the concession speech he had already told confidants he would not even consider. His failure to confirm a peaceable and orderly transition has never been corrected. His capacity to inflict vengeful damage during the lame duck remainder of his failed presidency is only limited by the degree to which his enablers are willing to exercise their patriotic duty — and now restrain the vile manchild they empowered at this country’s terrible expense.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden inherits from his predecessor a country even more in crisis than the country Franklin Delano Roosevelt received from the charge of yet another spectacularly inept Republican. There remains good reason to wonder if Biden can rise to this equal challenge… but there also remains good basis for hope.
At the end of this long ordeal, there is hope that the institutions and ideals of American government by and for the people have proven stronger than the cynicism and corruption of the powerful. More Americans voted for Joe Biden than all Americans combined voted in this country’s first century of Presidential Elections.
But very nearly as many voted for Donald Trump — and therein lies a problem.
Regardless Joe Biden’s continued and sincere assertion that he intends to be a fair and equal president to supporters and opponents alike, it should be readily apparent that the feeling is far from mutual. Those of us who took to the streets in 2016 to make clear that Donald Trump was not, never would be, our president would be hypocrites to expect much else from Trump supporters — particularly in view of the irresponsible way that Trump has spent months spewing propaganda that questions the very legitimacy of the election process itself, casting equal doubt upon the legitimacy of any government that does not sanction him as its undisputed and unchallengeable leader.
Donald Trump no more created Trumpism than he has ever created anything, other than debt and disaster. He merely incorporated it into his own personal brand, much like rebranding a casino or a golf course. The vast swath of flyover country that remains solidly red on the electoral map also remains solidly a hotbed of racist resentment and hostility toward the very concepts of urbanism and plurality — the concepts that now define a country that will shortly be welcoming into office a vice president who is both a woman and a person of color. It should be recalled that the single largest terrorist action in American history before 9/11 was planned and took place in this same “heartland” of resentment and feelings of disenfranchisement. The danger of future such events is now perhaps greater than ever.
The work that remains will be difficult, but is necessary. As long as the systemic flaws and inequities that made Trump possible remain, the possibility of another Trump — perhaps one less flawed, less easy to unseat — remains as well. Those who have spent months in protest and resistance need to continue both. But they also need to recognize the inherent dangers of political violence, and be prepared to de-escalate, should genuine reforms de-escalate the violence done unto them. Kamala Harris is, indeed, a “cop”. And Joe Biden is no progressive. But it is very possible that the same credentials that make them suspect in the eyes of The Left also empower them to carry out real reform. They should be given a chance to do so.
But that comes later. For now, there is genuine cause for relief and cause for celebration. And cause as well to give thanks for democratic institutions that — despite their flaws — provide for the possibility of change, progress… and hope.