At my age, any new experience is something to savor. And when the term “dancing in the street” actually comes to life, it’s damn year impossible to resist. Such was my experience on Saturday, November 7, 2020.
When the AP called Pennsylvania, and thus the presidential election, for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, a wave of euphoria set in. And the best way to experience that is to set out and share the moment with others. It happened for me in November of 2016 when the Cubs won the World Series, and again when the victory parade happened two days later. But just a few days later, Donald Trump was elected president, and as Vincent Price said in his Thriller rap, darkness seemed to fall across the land.
On January 18, 2017–just two days before Donald Trump took the oath of office–I wrote the following words in this space:
On Friday, January 20, 2017, America plunges into a deep, dark abyss….I wish I had a glimmer of hope to offer up in this space, but I don’t know what it might be.
As it turns out, Trump was every bit as bad as I thought he would be. What made it even worse is that nobody seemed to be able to stop him, either. Not the press, or the Congress, or the norms and traditions of American government that had been built up over the centuries. Trump steamrolled over all of it. Even impeachment didn’t get in his way, not with the supine Republican senators who refused to do their duties to the Constitution.
But in the end, the people had their say. Trump has vowed litigation, and he seems to feel that the Supreme Court will ultimately gift him with another term in office, which would essentially make him into a monarch.
But there’s a reality that Trump can’t overcome, Electoral College or no Electoral College. That reality is that if the people don’t support you, you can’t continue to hold onto power.
I did some research online this week, and learned that Trump was the fifth president to take office after losing the popular vote. Three of those presidents–John Quincy Adams, Benjamin Harrison, and Trump himself–ran for a second term and were defeated. Another one–Rutherford B. Hayes–didn’t seek a second term. And the fifth one–George W. Bush–did get re-elected, but with a majority of the popular vote in 2004, proving that the Electoral College may be a one-time fix for a presidential candidate, but it won’t be there for them a second time.
Earlier today, I put something on Facebook that said Donald Trump never acted like he owed anything to the people who didn’t vote for him. He played to his Fox News base first, last, and always. And the people like me who didn’t support him had just one chance to do something about it. I’m so grateful that we did not throw away our shot on November 3.
After the celebrations in Chicago and throughout America today–which are still going on as I type this out–there can be no going back to Donald Trump as president. He can kick and scream and bluster between now and January 20, but we have moved on from him as a nation. His children and his hard-core supporters will never know what breaking free of his grasp feels like, but the rest of us got that feeling today, and man, did it ever feel good.