Donald Trump woke up this morning and quietly left. There was a small ceremony. Nobody paid much attention. He didn’t have to be dragged out, and he didn’t try to declare martial law. Now he’s in Florida, playing all the golf his shriveled heart desires while watching cable news and ranting about immigrants, like anyone’s racist grandpa.
Our worst nightmare didn’t come to pass. Democracy remains intact. Meanwhile, Trump’s did. He’s finally irrelevant.
Nobody cares what he says or does anymore, as long as he stays off social media and out of politics.
We have a few surprising turns to thank for this new, muted version of Trump. It wasn’t just that Twitter banned him. Every other social media platform followed. All of his business partners ditched him. Then Mitch McConnell (of all people) flat out declared that Trump spent months spreading lies and conspiracy theories before inciting a deadly riot at the capitol. It’s not like all these people suddenly grew a spine. They simply heard the change in tune and decided to start playing along.
Hey, we’ll take it.
Now we don’t really know what to do with ourselves. We just witnessed a surprisingly normal inauguration ceremony. That’s really saying something, given the circumstances.
In the wake of Trump, we’re left with an unsettling question.
We need to face some difficult truths.
Let’s get this out of the way:
We almost lost our democracy. We didn’t almost lose it to a sharp, cunning antichrist type. We lost it to a bungling reality TV star who happened to have a secret genius for manipulating ratings and perception.
That’s a little embarrassing.
The last year was a wake up call. It wasn’t full of “unprecedented” events. It was a reckoning with all of the problems we’ve been ignoring for the last five decades. Now we have to deal with them, or we’ll wind up in exactly the same situation again. It’s not that hard to imagine.
Right this minute, there’s a healthy caucus of lunatics in congress who wish they’d been able to overthrow the government.
Even as we take a deep breath, let’s not kid ourselves. We’ve got a lot of work to do. It’s nice to know we can actually do that work. We’re not doomed. We’re not living under a dictatorship quite yet.
We have a chance.
We’ll see a coordinated response to the pandemic.
As we speak, the Biden team is putting an actual plan in place. That’s right, states will no longer fend for themselves and scramble over each other for things like vaccines and testing equipment.
The Biden administration will listen to scientists instead of fighting with them and undermining every single recommendation they make. We’re going to have a president who doesn’t make sarcastic remarks about how much everyone loves Dr. Fauci more than him.
We actually stand a chance at getting this virus under control now. We might even convince more people to wear masks.
I know, we’re dreaming big here.
It’s going to take some time to see real change, but now we can actually breathe a little, and maybe sleep at night knowing there’s a government in place that actually cares about us a little. It’s a strange thing for this to feel like a gift, but that’s the truth of it.
We feel lucky.
We’ll have leaders who know what they’re doing.
It’s strange to watch cabinet picks like Janet Yellen give real answers to questions during confirmation hearings.
It’s even stranger to read her credentials and realize she’s actually qualified for the job she wants. We don’t have to agree with everything she says. We’re just surprised she knows what cryptocurrency is.
We’re shocked that she’s actually being honest about economic growth and recovery. She’s giving intelligent, thoughtful answers to questions. Seriously, what’s going on? Is this a trick?
We’ve spent the last four years watching a president hand jobs to everyone from his campaign donors to his own kids.
That’s over now. Sigh…
We’ll spend less time on Twitter.
We all know people who’ve spent half the day yelling at their phones. You can’t blame all of that on Donald Trump.
That said, he didn’t help.
Now we have a president who thinks for a few minutes before he tweets. He sends out predictable, measured statements about hope and solidarity. If we’re being honest, it’s probably not even him. Our new president probably has a handful of people who manage his twitter account, and every tweet probably goes through an approval process.
That’s how it should be.
A real president doesn’t have time to spend all day on his phone, retweeting every piece of internet trash he comes across. He’s got meetings and events to attend. He’s got briefings to study.
Being a president is hard. It’s usually not that fun to watch. So, we’re all going to be spending a little less time on Twitter. We won’t all feel as compelled to defend democracy from behind our screens.
Imagine what we’ll get done…
White power will no longer have a sympathetic ear.
Let’s face it, Joe Biden isn’t going to end racism. That’s going to take another generation or more, if it ever happens.
That said, it’ll be nice to have a president who actually condemns white supremacy and hate speech.
The Muslim ban is already rescinded. I’m happy to see it go. As I’ve witnessed firsthand, it did nothing but make life miserable for smart, talented people from Middle Eastern countries who wanted to come here for education and employment. We need them back.
The last four years have shown us what happens when you placate white supremacist groups and protect “freedom of speech,” meanwhile starting ugly feuds with football players for practicing theirs. So for once, we won’t be actively emboldening racists.
They’ll have to retreat back to their virtual corners, where agencies like the FBI and Homeland Security are going to be giving extra special scrutiny to what they talk about for the next few years.
These groups wanted our attention.
Now they’ve got it.
We’ll take overdue action on climate change.
We wasted four critical years ignoring the climate crisis. When we should’ve been reducing carbon emissions on a massive scale, our last president deregulated everything he could and gave corporations broad freedoms to dump all kinds of toxins into our environment. Now we’re out of time, and climate disasters have become a reality.
The grim truth is obvious to anyone who actually picks up a newspaper or magazine these days.
It’s too late to avoid climate change.
We’re now in the business of trying to keep it from completely destroying our civilization. We’re looking at decades full of disasters that will make the last year look like a Disney movie.
Our leaders have a lot of hard work ahead of them, and we as ordinary people face tough sacrifices in our personal lives. There’s no guarantee we’ll be able to pull off the changes we need to. But hey, at least we have an administration who admits some of that that now.
It’s better than nothing.
The economy will come back together.
After almost a decade of gridlock, we finally have a president and a congress who could pass some meaningful legislation.
Look, it could go sideways. Both political parties are guilty of enabling predatory capitalism and bailing out billionaires who don’t deserve it. But if things are ever going to change, it’s going to happen under an administration like Biden’s, with extra pushing from progressives.
Under Trump, we were going nowhere.
We need to start having serious conversations about things like universal basic income and more progressive tax structures. That was never going to happen under the last administration.
It could under this one.
We weren’t fully prepared for good news.
We spent the last four years watching our hopes and dreams slowly erode under a president who nurtured evermore delusional thinking. Near the end, his alternative facts turned into an outlandish daydream completely divorced from the reality lived by the rest of us.
It ended with a bloody riot and a clumsy, failed coup.
There’s no question about it. This last president caused a lot of people real harm, physically and psychologically.
Some of us are scarred.
We honestly didn’t expect this day to come. We were bracing for something awful to happen. Now we’re relieved, but we’re also in a strange state of limbo. We’re all wondering what comes next.
I guess we stop ranting at our old nemesis and get back to our lives, and keep trying to make a better future for everyone.
It’ll take some getting used to.