Sally and I have been on a road trip for the last couple of weeks while our apartment was being painted. We visited beloved relatives and saw the sights in several eastern states, including the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where I took these pictures. The painters did a nice job. Thanks, guys!
Meanwhile, we all made history. Of course, that’s always true, but from time to time we’re particularly aware of a major shift. Getting rid of Trump is one of those moments.
I won’t lie: the Trump years have been tough for me. So much of what he’s done has been directed against the things I took as hopeful and positive aspects of this country, like Americans’ usual tolerance, curiosity, and courage, and directed towards our fear, ignorance, and greed. He was surprisingly successful in bringing out the worst in us, and convincing many that there was nothing to be ashamed of. To some extent he created a type of alternative reality, where facts, rationality, and ethics were severely discounted.
After three days of vote counting, almost all election experts agreed that Trump decisively lost both the electoral college and popular vote. Oh joy!
Still, I was disappointed that there was not a massive repudiation of Trump. He seems to have won about 47% of the popular vote. Even more disturbing, he won well over half of white people’s votes, and increased his percentage of that group from the last election. How incompetent, dishonest, and racist would he have had to be to be buried in a landslide? Other than the obvious, what is going on with all those Trump supporters? More research is needed.
Part of the reason for Trump’s showing surely relates to the long term Republican project to suppress votes by the opposition. Measures including gerrymandering, cutting early voting, closing voting sites in Democratic leaning areas, and requiring more voter IDs were part of the equation. So were threats and intimidation. The system we call democracy has been under attack.
To overcome those obstacles, Democrats, always a diverse and motley assemblage, had to pull together in an unprecedented effort. Amazingly, it happened. And now we’re finally done with Trump’s alt-reality. Or are we?
I expected that Republicans would need some time to process Trump’s defeat. It’s tough to lose. It’s emotional. So it wasn’t surprising that Republicans’ first reaction was denial. But now they’ve had some time, and there’s a problem.
Trump continues to claim, contrary to overwhelming evidence, that he won the election. Just as he promised, he is refusing to acknowledge defeat and cooperate in a peaceful transition. Few Republican leaders have rejected what could be construed as an attempted coup d’etat. This is, to put it mildly, unprecedented.
It’s admittedly a strange thing to say, but there may be an upside to Trump’s profound corruptness. It could easily be that his lust for wealth at all costs, rather than all out treason, is what’s driving his latest ruse. He’s reportedly soliciting donations for his election challenge fund which will actually be going to his personal slush fund.
In any case, there’s a clear upside to Trump’s incompetence and stupidity: whatever his despicable hopes and dreams, he’s unlikely to engineer anything nearly as complicated as an overthrow of the government. So far, his supporters have remained peaceful, and some of them are starting to come to terms with losing. Two cheers for that. This painful episode may soon feel as strange and immaterial as a bad dream, as a new day dawns. Fingers crossed!