As the election week begins, the President is crisscrossing the East and Midwest US in a mad dash to save his reelection. His closing pitch breaks more norms of sitting Presidents as it is not one promoting unity, hope or even a bright future under a second Trump term. Instead, it is one of apocalyptical fear, division, grievances, and victimization. He lies and complains more than he campaigns or champions his (lack of) accomplishments. He celebrated supporters for running a Biden campaign bus off a road in Texas, mocked even Fox reporters for wearing masks, whined about the fake news media as usual, and accused doctors of fabricating COVID deaths for the money. He continued to lay the groundwork for contesting the election by accusing mostly Democrat-led states and their governors of conspiring to cheat like “you have never seen.” He threatened to send in the lawyers and go all the way to “his” supreme court after the election. And of course he continued to claim the election was rigged as there is no way he should lose.
As the nation rapidly approaches 10 million COVID cases, Trump falsely claimed once more that we are “rounding the turn” and that the problem is that we are doing too much testing. On Monday the day before the election, Trump threatens to fire Dr. Fauci from his role on the pandemic task force. In the previous week Trump had called the doctor a disaster and idiot. Dr. Fauci had said over the past weekend that there was going to be a “whole lot of hurt” in the coming weeks. Like a Nazi calling for a purge, Trump then worked up his adoring fans at a campaign rally into chanting “Fire Fauci.” And of course this happened at an event of hundreds in Florida where most did not wear masks nor maintain social distancing. Trump was even seen tossing out his hats into the crowd. All this despite a new round of infections within the White House including Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. How fitting that it was only two weeks ago that Meadows claimed they were not going to get the pandemic under control.
Yet, despite a surging pandemic that has killed nearly 240,000, a deep economic recession, record cultural and political polarization, civic unrest due to racial injustice, fears of foreign interference, a sabotaged Postal Service, voter suppression, the threat of violence at polls, and hours standing in long lines, a record number of Americans voted. It was a blessed sight to see. It was one of the best images of the year. Some 103 million were estimated to have voted early and another 50 million plus turned out on election day. With some 240 million eligible voters, this brings the turnout to a respectable two-thirds, which is high for the US although low for many democracies around the world. I suppose we owe Donald Trump thanks for at least one thing in his misery filled four years; reminding every American on all sides how important their vote is. But that right is only earned when voters take the time to be an informed and news literate electorate, which many guess is less than half of all voters as the election results will show.
The contrast between Joe Biden and Donald Trump as men and public office holders who should be serving us could not be more stark. One is an honorable man who has served the nation for over four decades and who is known for his warmth, decency, humanity and empathy toward all with no malice. He had so few controversies and scandals despite so many years in office that his opponents had to make them all up by picking on the live and deceased members of his extended family.
Over the past 46 months the country has bore witness to a completely different man in Donald Trump. One that thru his actions and words has justifiably been called by others: morally bankrupt, pathological liar, narcissist, dishonest, charlatan, demagogue, despot, hateful, mobster-like, misogynist, racist, plutocrat, tax cheat, con artist, hypocrite, financial fraud, fake populist, xenophobe, bigot, porn star patron, genital grabber, faux conservative, unrepentant Christian, seditious autocrat, and the most dangerous unfit president in modern history. And for the record I do not hate Trump; I hate the evil he represents, the evil he has performed or incited to occur, and the evil he brings out in others.
(Please forgive this horrific long painful paragraph, but Trump’s behavior is to blame for it, and not at least this time my poor writing skills.) A man who over his equally long career always serving his own interests first has lied, cheated, bullied, ignored intelligence reports, defended Russians, blamed everyone except himself, took no responsibility for anything, took credit for things he did not do, kept few promises, did not get Mexico to build a wall, separated children from families at the border and had them caged, broke federal agencies, rescinded one after another environmental protections, weakened international alliances like NATO, restarted a nuclear arms race, broke treaties that allowed Iran to restart its nuclear program, began to militarize space, increased tensions on the China sea, threatened members of his own party showing loyalty to no one, pardoned felons and commuted sentences of cronies, started trade wars, refused to release his tax returns, admired dictators, cajoled autocrats, failed to condemn human rights violations, demeaned war veterans and Gold Star families, degraded people who disagreed with him, threw temper tantrums, insulted our friends abroad, sued book authors who wrote about him, corrupted the justice department, refused to divest himself of business interests and likely violated emolument clause, mocked the disabled, threatened to prosecute political opponents, called right wing extremists fine people, refused to condemn domestic violence, encouraged police brutality, impeded and obstructed justice, called the press enemies of the people, disregarded the constitution, used the bible as a photo op prop, ignored early warnings about coronavirus, told congresswomen of color to go back to their home country, closed the borders to refugees fleeing for their lives, denigrated black lives matter, called football players sons of bitches, told militia groups to stand by, flaunted rules and trashed norms like he was a king, time and time disgraced America, approved of war crimes, pitted Americans against each other, encouraged insurrection to liberate Midwest states, worked to dismantle the ACA, gutted consumer finance protections, stacked regulatory agencies with appointees from the industries they were suppose to monitor, promoted conspiracy theories, called immigrants rapists, loaded up his cabinet with those more loyal to him than to the constitution, fueled a personality cult, asked others to commit crimes on his behalf, went thru cabinet members and chiefs of staff like soiled laundry, sought to use the military on domestic protesters, ordered Congressional subpoenas be ignored, packed federal courts including SCOTUS, loaded the country up on debt even before the pandemic, gave permanent tax breaks to the wealthy, allowed American soldiers to be attacked by Russians in Syria without a response, never said a bad word about Putin and said he believed him over his own intelligence agencies, invited election interference instead of protecting us from it, watched as hundreds of thousands of Americans became ill and died while implying they were just not tough enough, hosted super spreader events that infected dozens, dismissed science and denied climate change, increased the trade deficit to record levels, oversaw a collapse of the economy and GDP, borrowed and began to bankrupt the country like his previous businesses, disparaged anyone that stood in the way of his hunger for money and power, and of course refused to honor the results of the election or commit to a peaceful transfer of power.
It has been an election year of so many sad images: long obituary pages, remote funeral services by zoom, field tent hospitals, endless testing lines, reckless campaign rallies, masks and gloves, unreal White House press conferences, uncivil debates, civil unrest in the streets, food lines, higher fences and walls around the White House, unemployment lines, barren store shelves, armed right-wing militias storming state capitols, empty office buildings, gassed peaceful protesters, barren highways, closed malls, shuttered schools, empty airports, and families, neighborhoods, and communities broken apart by lies and partisanship incited by the President and his sick sycophants. Psychologists warn the entire country is experiencing a form of nationwide PTSD. Historians advise that not since the civil war has America been so divided and seemingly on the verge of yet another civil war where the battle lines run thru our homes and neighborhoods.
Election day would not disappoint for yet more drama and anxiety in a year that has overwhelmed so many of us already. While thankfully elections went smoothly all across the country without incident or violence, by the end of the day there was no clear winner and the deadlock would continue for the rest of the week. As the week proceeded, President-elect Biden called for calm and patience on election night as well as while all votes were being counted, but did not prematurely claim victory. As the nation waited final counts, he called on the nation to put the “anger and demonization behind us” and asked “lets give each other a chance” along with “we are not enemies, we are Americans.” He promised to work as “President for all Americans.” How refreshing this was to hear. Thank you Joe Biden.
And of course Trump behaved exactly as we would expect. He tweeted before votes were counted that he had won a “big win” and had “WON THE ELECTION” that the Democrats were trying to steal. Yet, it was Trump who was trying to steal the election by claiming a win based on early vote counts that were not finished. Tweet after tweet from the supposed leader of the free world were marked as misleading. Trump appeared before the press on Thursday over the prime time news hour at the White House looking dejected as he begun a tirade of grievances and falsehoods. He claimed without evidence there was widespread fraud and that he was winning in states he was losing, and that if all legal votes were counted he had won. He repeated the false claim that forces were trying to steal and rig the election . After s few minutes of constant lying most networks took him off the air and began fact checking.
As the week ended Biden was not only winning the electoral college votes but also the popular vote of 75 million to 71 million. But that would not stop Trump from making good of his promise to not concede nor participate in a peaceful transfer of power. He called out his media dogs, lawyers and supporters to show up at election tabulation sites. In those states where Trump was ahead at one time, like Pennsylvania. They protested for stopping the vote counting, asserting that all remaining ballots were illegal. In states he was behind, his supporters and lawyers argued to continue counting votes. The Trump campaign sued multiple states for irregularities, voter fraud, absentee voting, and lack of access to watch ballot processing. Trump claimed that the more votes were counted the more his reelection was being stolen from him. Yes, that is the way voting works, you count all votes. It was obvious he was just throwing so much doubt and chaos into the election that when he reuses to concede or leave office, he will be able to justify that to his rabid supporters. That’s what despots and dictators do. We did not need a foreign adversary like Russia to interfere and destabilize our democratic processes and election; we had our own home-grown democracy terrorist. Maybe that is why the Russians did nothing; they had their man in office to do it all for them.
Over a gut-wrenching four days of November 2020, one by one the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan, Arizona, Virginia, and Pennsylvania would be called with most falling for Joe Biden. Late on Saturday morning, November 7, news agencies began calling the race for Biden after his mounting vote totals in Pennsylvania. Biden had finally won enough states to rise above the 270 electors needed even without Georgia, North Carolina, and Nevada being settled.
As the news spread of Biden’s win, tens of thousands of Americans rejoiced in the streets of many major cities in spontaneous block parties. And President Trump was playing golf for the umpteenth time, a recreation which he relentlessly derided Obama about. His motorcade returned from the private golf club to the White House thru the joyous streets of DC with signs ever so appropriately blaring you’re fired. And the country took a deep breath as the long national nightmare of the Trump presidency entered its last 10 weeks.
Relief would be short lived as if we have not already lived in a state of constant domestic turmoil and personal anxiety for 46 months. As expected, the President refused to concede the election much less make the phone call to the president elect, his supporters refused to accept defeat with some protested at polling sites and state capitols carrying guns, and his administration refused to support the transfer of power. And what was left of the once proud patriotic Republican Party, the party that was supposedly the defender of the constitution that wraps itself around the flag, has now become a shameless personality cult by failing to congratulate President Elect Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Especially Harris who will become the first woman vice president and first mixed- race daughter of immigrant parents from India and Jamaica to rise to such a high office. Her story demonstrates what makes America Great and exceptional, not that of a lying rich demagogue like Trump.
But a dark shadow remains over the country. Nearly 70 million Americans voted for Donald Trump. How did this happen? What planet are they living on? A topic for a future Bearing Witness in the Heartland.
The above news items have been taken from a number of local, regional, national and international news media including print, broadcast, and digital sources, but no social media. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.