Catharsis, Normalcy… and Hope

How normal it all seemed– and how very apparent it made the sheer abnormality of the last four years.

By Anatole d’Ecotopia

The man who promised to “drain the swamp”, who made it worse and encouraged mad fever dreams… he’s gone now.

What remains to be seen is if those who put their faith in that man can now give their honest allegiance to his legitimate successor as Americans — or if they intend to persist in fever dreams and falsehood. That choice must be made at every level, and those choices begin this very day. Those who embraced and exploited the last four years of fever dreams, dishonesty, and disunion have a decision to make — particularly those who have done so from positions of power. Those choices will be made evident over the next few days.

Joe Biden’s inaugural address  was moving in its simplicity, touching in its rootedness in the core American values of fairness and civility that will now be tested as they have never been tested before. It would be a mistake to assume that the test is over merely because the Insurrection failed. The person who inspired it may have left the stage in disgrace, but those who were inspired by it remain — likely unmoved in their obdurate hatred by today’s spectacle of mere American normalcy and decency, likely incensed by the embrace of contemporary America’s multicultural, multiethnic, multigender diversity. 

But those who hate from the shadows have always been with us. A disgraced and departed president may have rebranded that hatred in his own name and enlarged upon it until a failed insurrection was inevitable — but he no more created it than that small and shabby man has ever created anything. If he intends to persist in his  hatred and lies, let him do so in the shadows — along with those with whom he remains in mutual embrace.

And even though President Biden’s inaugural address did not call for accountability for those who resorted to lies and violence in a vain attempt to prevent that inauguration, let us not forget that this is not truly the first time Joe Biden has addressed this nation as president. That occasion occurred the same day as the aforementioned insurrection, when his predecessor could not be troubled to address the nation or address the fact of what he had done. 

President Biden’s first true speech to the nation ended with words, spoken as he left the podium, that those who promote hate from shadows would do well to remember, words that those who might promote disunion from places of power should heed as well: 

“Enough is enough is enough!”

There must be an accounting. It must be swift, fair, and just — sparing no one. And then it needs to end. As the lies and folly of the last four years are put behind us, let us put aside as well the endless grievances, retributions, and retaliations against affronts both real and imagined.

The cathartic ritual of the orderly and peaceful transfer of power is a powerful and inspiring American tradition. What occurred today should not be cheapened or demeaned by reflexive cynicism or a need to incessantly criticize America’s frequently flawed but enduring experiment in Democracy. Instead, it should be honored — and the utter, boring normalcy of it greeted with gratitude and thanks.

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