I have purposely refrained from writing anything “post election,” hoping that I could post something very hopeful and positive.
Instead, although former Vice President Joe Biden prevailed and has won enough votes to be declared the winner of the presidential race by everyone except hard-core Trump supporters, the news from the front was not as rosy as Democrats might have hoped. Cheri Bustos, who was Chairperson of the DNC, has stepped down amidst the news that the “blue tsunami” that many thought was going to happen did not materialize.
I never felt that there was going to be a “blue tsunami.” I was still coping with the debilitating news that Trump was going to be our president, rather than Hillary Clinton. Mind you, I was not an avid Hillary supporter, but I did think she would be competent, which was not at all clear with the mercurial temperament of DJT.
I felt the way I did when Stephen Colbert had set aside his entire late night talk show to revel in Hillary Clinton’s victory and, instead, had to consume the champagne in a much-less festive fashion.
Since the polls closed on November 3rd I’ve waited for a sign that a smooth transition of power was taking place and our long national nightmare with DJT might be over. It will be two full weeks tomorrow and Biden’s popular vote continues to rise. However, the Trumpers are in the position that those of us who backed Al Gore in 2000 were placed in after the hanging chad election in Florida. Only worse.
There is far more evidence, this time, that the citizens of the United States wanted to be rid of Donald J. Trump. That enthusiasm for change did not, however, extend down the ballot, and the mere fact that 170 million people could still bring themselves to vote for Donald J. Trump is disconcerting.
After reading many “post election post scripts” in these 2 weeks, I have settled on tapping the thoughts articulated by Leonard Pitts of the Miami “Herald” and here are this Black American’s thoughts, published on November 9th:
Recognizing Who We Are: Faced with a clear choice between good and evil, America did the right thing, barely. That is sobering and profoundly disappointing.
“Forgive me for being the ant at the picnic.
Certainly this is a glad moment, an ecstatic and delirious moment. The election of 2020 has ended at last. Joe Biden is finally the president-elect and Donald Trump is finally consigned to the dank well of ignominy he so richly deserves.
As Gerald Ford once said in the aftermath of a less dire threat, “Our long national nightmare is over.” As the Munchkins of Oz once sang, “Ding dong! The wicked witch is dead.”
But if gladness is mandated, caveats are required. America needed an emphatic rejection that left no doubt that the chaos, lies, lawlessness, bigotry and ignorance Trump represented were not, as some of us are overly fond of claiming ‘who we are as a people.’ We needed to deliver him a thundering, emphatic rejection.
And we did not.
To the contrary, a victory that should have been an overwhelming landslide had to be eked into existence. Indeed, even in defeat, Trump actually improved on his 2016 popular vote count by, at this writing, roughly 7 million votes.
Think about that. After he bungled a pandemic (240,000 Americans dead; 420,000 by March 1st), after he botched the economy (nearly 5 million jobs lost—more than any president since WWII), after he alienated our allies and emboldened our enemies, after he undermined every institution, down to and including the National Weather Service, after he extorted Ukraine, occupied Portland and declared war on Lafayette Square, and, after he embraced an agenda of brazen white supremacy, after, in other words, they lost the excuse of ignorance, because they knew exactly what Trump was, 7 million more people cast their ballots for Trump.
Yes, he lost.
Yes, Biden tallied more votes than any candidate in history (78,789,001, 50.9% for Biden to 73,167,876 votes, 47.3% for Trump) and, of course, won the Electoral College. But the caveat looms large.
Faced with a clear choice between good and evil, America did the right thing, barely. That is sobering and profoundly disappointing.
And it strips bare all the glossy claims about who we are as a country, underscoring the fact that in a meaningful sense, we are not one country at all anymore, but two sharing the same borders. The last time that happened, it took four years and 750,000 lives to force us back into some semblance of oneness. Even then, the seams of the fracture were always visible.
Unlike that break, this one is not starkly geographic: South versus North. No, this one is city versus country, college educated versus high school educated, and, most significantly, future versus past. Meaning that yesterday, this was a nation where white people were the majority, and tomorrow it will be one where they are not.
The fear and resentment that inspires in many white people cannot be overstated. It has warped our politics for years, culminating in the disaster of Trump.
Now, Biden is elected on a promise to heal those breaks, but that will require more than a good man’s good intentions. It will require white Americans to divest a system of white supremacy that, let’s face it, has been very, very good to them.
Unfortunately, it has been less good for the country. So a moral reckoning is required here. It is time more white Americans finally recognize that white supremacy is not something you compromise with or rationalize. It must be a deal breaker, always. And it isn’t, as evidenced by the fact that the man who called Mexicans rapists and Haiti, El Salvador and the nations of Africa “shithole countries,” who described neo-Nazis as “very fine people” and told four Congresswomen of color born in this country to “go back where they came from” just won 7 million more votes than he garnered in 2016.
That’s “who we are as a people.” Let’s stop kidding ourselves about that. And start figuring out how to become what we said we were all along.”