A little over four years ago, Donald Trump was elected the 45th President of the United States. Living in New York City, I remember the weather the day after the election almost perfectly. It was cloudy, cold, and morose. There was a chilly gloom and terror in the air. Even at work, people asked me in shock how Trump could be elected and I didn’t know. I told them that he would serve as an unmasker; his lack of political acumen would unmask the horrors of the country for the world to see. It would also further clarify the horrors that people lived under day in and day out. I want to talk about the presidency, and then I want to speak on my own reflections.
Trump had ample opportunities spoon fed to him to be at least a competent president. One who is wholly unqualified, but at least unremarkable. He failed to take them. He failed to condemn white supremacists, he failed to act with any sort of decorum, he stripped away vital parts of the white house, he alienated everyone who wasn’t in his inner circle, etc…All this served to do was promote a miasma of hatred throughout the country. One in which you couldn’t look to the government for leadership, so it became every man for themselves. You can sustain that for maybe a year, but collectively it diseases an already diseased nation long-term. You have ‘us vs them’ instead of ‘we vs problems’.
It culminated with the coronavirus. The coronavirus was something that hit every single nation at roughly the same time. Yet the United States is the only one that is experiencing a disproportionate amount of deaths compared to the developed world. Trump had an opportunity to be a leader during this crisis. A crisis that, if successfully managed, would have his supporters and people on the fence rushing to vote for him (as they did when it came to re-electing Bush due to 9/11). Instead, he downplayed it ad nauseum. He slowly began discrediting Fauci and the CDC with increasing effect. When George Floyd was murdered, instead of allowing people to peacefully protest there was tear gas and veiled threats of martial law. At no point was there compassion for those who have died or even anger at the state of the nation, just indifference and a desire to grow wealth. The American people were tired of the insults, the hate, the indifference and they overwhelmingly voted.
As for myself, I am ashamed to say I was indifferent. The main reason of my indifference was, crazily enough, even though I knew the history of his racism he didn’t say something overtly racist about African Americans like he did about Hispanics/Latinos and like he did (religion wise) regarding Muslims. I voted third party in 2016 largely because I didn’t trust either candidate, but also because I wrongfully assumed that people would be in the office to at least rein in his worst tendencies. I was wrong. Again, it culminated during coronavirus. The indifferent mask was ripped off of me when I saw his remarks in regards to George Floyd. While I have no faith in either party to significantly change systemic racism, I do know I don’t want the country to become worse. Trump was making the country worse and I knew this time I had to vote for Biden. If not for myself, then for people who would have suffered even worse than me. I know now I have to truly be involved and connected to political news so that I don’t let indifference get to me again.
Today, the sun is shining and it is an unusually warm 76 degrees. There is celebration on the horizon not because of the man, Joe Biden. There is celebration because America repudiated Donald Trump. We can celebrate because we are proud of that repudiation. We can have a new hope that America is not merely on top, but a global leader. As a democracy, we can finally embrace our accountability to ourselves and others.