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Why it's different

People like me are celebrating the defeat of Donald Trump. I teared up repeatedly during the day last Saturday, when Biden's victory was announced. I felt joyful, relieved, jubilant, and redeemed.

Some people like me, but significantly more magnanimous, are saying that we shouldn't gloat, we should be humble in victory, we should remember how we felt in 2016 and recognize that a lot of people feel that way today. And many people unlike me are saying the same thing: "It goes both ways."

But this is different. And here's why I think so.

The United States is deeply divided politically. There are issues we feel passionate about, often to the point of being unable to compromise. Some of these issues lead us to feel disdain, resentment, anger, even hatred, toward those who disagree with us. Reproductive freedom. Same-sex marriage. Religious expression.  Universal healthcare. Guns. Taxes. Climate change. Foreign policy. 

I understand that those who disagree with me on these issues are unhappy that Biden won this election, just as I was unhappy when Republicans have won past elections. Some people believe it is best for the United States to have limited federal government, the lowest possible taxes, and the maximum possible individual liberty. Those people see Biden (rightly or wrongly) as someone who will increase the size and power of the federal government, raise taxes, and reduce personal freedom. And they see Trump (again, rightly or wrongly) as someone who has kept government small and taxes low.

I will not argue about the rightly- or wrongly-arrived-at conclusions these people have, nor will I argue about whether their political interests are indeed best for the country. Obviously I am in complete disagreement with them, but this diversity of opinion is not necessarily bad for the country. Political debate has helped strengthen our democracy.

But this is not a victory of progressive politics over conservative. It is not a victory of the Democratic party over the Republican. And it is not a victory of one candidate over another equally-qualified but different-thinking candidate.

This is a victory over Fascism. Trump has, with the support of Republicans in the Senate, consolidated power in a way that threatens to collapse the balance of power, undermine the freedom of the press, and destroy American democracy. And he continues to do so by not acknowledging the results of the election. 

During both his first campaign and his time in the White House, Trump has doggedly used the nastiest language to disparage his political opponents. The long list of nicknames he coined, not just for Democrats but for anyone who criticized him, including the press, is not the stuff of normal political discourse. It has nothing to do countering his opponents ideas and everything to do with attacking them as people. And its sole purpose was to incite his supporters.

But if that isn't bad enough, his attacks weren't just against political foes or the press. He attacked regular citizens, people like me, who didn't support him. And again, he did that by using incendiary language in his rallies and campaign events, and even in events paid for with our tax dollars, to fire up his supporters. 

When challenged, Trump was unable to make cogent arguments about anything. He just attacked.

And now, as the clear loser of the election, he has (1) refused to concede, (2) been unwilling to assist in the peaceful transition of power, and  (3, and worst of all) gone into hiding and ceased to do anything to deal with an ever more serious health crisis in the United States.

Some folks write off his bad behavior as just that. Christian evangelicals, who should be appalled by it, reason that it's possible to have distaste for what he says and does but support the ways he has helped advance their political and philosophical agenda. I find that utterly hypocritical, but it's not surprising. I think there's always been a ton of hypocrisy among the religious right.

It was clear from the get-go that Donald Trump was not interested in being a president for all Americans, and it is clear now that the only thing he cares about is Donald Trump.

When Trump was elected in 2016, Hillary Clinton conceded gracefully, and President Obama invited him to the White House. These are the symbolic indicators of how American democracy continues. This is how it has always happened. In my lifetime, there have been two previous incumbent presidents who lost reelection: Jimmy Carter in 1980, and George H. W. Bush in 1992. Both conceded and invited their successors to the White House. I've never seen these rituals carried out with anything but grace.

Until now.

This president has been different from every other president in the history of the United States. And this election was different from every other election.

I'm not a political writer. I can't fill this post with a panoply of specific examples of the things I've described. (Well, I probably could, but it would take a lot of research I'm not really interested in doing.) I can only write about my own perception of what has happened to the United States over the last four years. I was afraid enough of what my country was becoming that I left and became and expat in Mexico.

No, the election of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris is not like other elections. So when people say "but you didn't give Trump a chance when he was elected," I say, when we have a Democratic president who behaves the way Trump has behaved, then you can talk to me about how it goes both ways.


  1. I'm afraid our country's divisiveness will take longer than 4 Biden years to begin to heal, but it's a start.

  2. Excellent post, Lane. I just read it aloud to Linda. We both loved it. I have said to many people, including a few conservative friends, that tRump is the single greatest domestic threat to America. He remains so, in my opinion, and the election has not changed that. These next 67 days hold the potential for much danger. Unfortunately, tRump retains enormous influence over 40% of the country's citizens. They believe the excrement he sells. Let us hope that the new administration can successfully consign tRump to the ash heap of history, minimize the damage he has done and can do, and kindle some semblance of decency and effective collaboration. It's going to be an exceedingly tough slog, and the outcome is not known...


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