Four years ago, in a closer election than this one, Democrats sucked in their breath, picked their jaws up off the floor and confronted the fact that an absolutely impossible result had occurred. The losing candidate, Hillary Clinton, conceded to Donald Trump shortly after the result was called by the press, saying in part
“Last night I congratulated Donald Trump and offered to work with him on behalf of our country. I hope that he will be a successful president for all Americans. This is not the outcome we wanted or we worked so hard for, and I’m sorry we did not win this election for the values we share and the vision we hold for our country…
…“Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead. Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power. We don’t just respect that. We cherish it. It also enshrines the rule of law; the principle we are all equal in rights and dignity; freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these values, too, and we must defend them.”
Contrast that with Donald Trump’s incitement to riot
We look on, as our president for the next sixty-six days not only fails to acknowledge a clear Biden victory in both the popular vote and Electoral College, but calls out fraud with no evidence. On numerous occasions Trump has failed to distance himself from racist demonstrations and the growing tendency of armed so-called private militias to swarm the streets of America.
“Stand down, but stand by” was his advice to ‘The Proud Boys,’ a modern day iteration of Hitler’s Brownshirts, just prior to the election. On multiple occasions he told his screaming followers that “the only way I can possibly lose this election is if it is stolen by the Democrats.” And we, as well as nearly all facets of the media, reported those rants by a sitting president as if they were newsworthy, instead of an assault on the democratic principles upon which our republic is founded.
Then he played golf, fueled the fires and played more golf
I am angered beyond description at a president of my own country driving an already divided citizenry into riots in our streets and then cheering them on. Every president in our long and difficult history has worked to bring the disparate regions of our nation together.
It’s not been easy, because democracy is always a fragile balance of diverse opinion. But it has never, ever until now been abandoned as a goal by our presidents.
We speculate endlessly, as we might with an errant child
This man is, for the next sixty-six days, the leader of the most powerful nation in the free world. The example he sets is to
- question his opponent’s election,
- prevent the normal process of government transition,
- ignore a pandemic that sets daily records for transmission,
- decapitate the civilian oversight of the military and
- replace governance with a tantrum thrown in full sight of the world.
Fox News has an opinion on this, as does CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times. Pundits to the right and pundits to the left, volley and thunder. Social media divides parents from children on the issue and entire generations take sides as if it were a football season and there would be a Super Bowl at the end, rather than the disempowering of a coming administration.
Not a voice is heard as America falls to its knees
Who will stop this force of evil? I shudder at my own description of a President of the United States as a force of evil, but there is no other honest description and I have seen many presidents. My voice is faint, but it will have to do.
A tantrum by a child is an embarrassment to the parent and, in this day and age, we no longer lay them over our knee for a whipping. But we are not a parent and this is not a child, at least in the usual sense of the word. He can’t be sent off to his room without supper. But at his age, he can surely have the keys to the family car taken away until he learns better how to drive.
That has effectively been done in a national election.
But he holds them in his hand, shaking them in our face and threatening one last careening rampage down route sixty-six. And then it will be over.
Photo by Allison Dinner — Getty Images