For the past four years, I have been embarrassed to be an American. Every time Trump tweeted, spoke, issued an executive order, or rolled out another heinous policy, I was not just outraged, I felt humiliated.
On 1/17 on CBS Sunday morning, I watched Kamala Harris and her husband, Doug Emhoff, laugh and clown around with each other. I was delighted. Can you imagine Mike and Karen Pence doing the same? I can’t.
On Tuesday, I watched the Bidens and Harris/Emhoff’s honor the 400,000 people (and counting) who died during the pandemic. Trump and his ilk have hardly given them a word or, I imagine, a second thought.
On Wednesday, I watched President Biden and Vice-President Harris (no longer “elect”!) take their oaths of office and was mesmerized by the brilliant poet, Amanda Gorman, enthrall everyone with her beautiful, stunning and hopeful poem, The Hill We Climb.
It feels like an eternity since Biden and Harris won the election and, as many others have noted, our democracy has been tested in the past few months like rarely before, but it did endure. I was struck by a comment from Nathan Law, one of the prominent Hong Kong pro-democracy activists. He said that he was encouraged by our largely peaceful transfer of power. What is so interesting is that while for us this has been the least peaceful transfer of power in living memory, for the rest of the world it was a minor incident. Oh, the world was shocked that such an event could happen in the United States of America, but violence around elections is nothing new and Trump’s “army of imbeciles,” as Jimmy Kimmel called them, was absolutely nothing to fear.
There is a lot of work to be done. Again, as many have pointed out, just because the Orange One is gone, does not mean that racial injustice and inequity, moronic conspiracy theories that suck in hapless and disenfranchised people, and a raging pandemic and economic crisis goes with him, but, for a moment, I was able to feel pride in my country again.
Our judiciary did not fail us. Liberal and conservative judges and justices (even those appointed by Trump) overwhelmingly disgusted by Giuliani and his team of idiots’ laughable legal maneuvers tossed the cases out of court, often with blistering rebukes.
Our legislatures did not fail us. Yes, far too many of them passed or tried to pass restrictive voting laws before the election, but afterward, none tried to intervene, and both our House and Senate confirmed the election. Hopefully, those who baselessly attempted to thwart the Constitutionally mandated process will be held to account.
Our election officials did not fail us. Virtually to a person, those invested with safeguarding our elections throughout the States, did their job honorably and proudly, sometimes in the face of threats to themselves and their families.
Our military did not fail us. In spite of some missteps, our military leaders resoundingly and proactively rejected any attempt by the lame duck commander-in-chief to use the military against the American people. There was no “Great Awakening.” In fact, I am confident that had Trump declared martial law, the military would not have supported him.
Do I paint too rosy a picture? Perhaps, but I don’t have on blinders. As Ms. Gorman wrote:
Somehow we weathered and witnessed a nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished…
And, yes, we are far from polished, far from pristine, but that doesn’t mean we are striving to form a union that is perfect.
We are striving to forge our union with purpose.
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors, characters and conditions of man.
Though our institutions, and our faith in them, were tested, they held firm. It is particularly interesting that Democratic groups strategized on responses to many election-defying scenarios, many of which came true, but, in the end, the best response tended to be to hold back and allow the Trumpists to fail on their own. On Wednesday, we proved that though democracy is fragile, ours is still strong enough to hold fast and expose a demagogue who acted tough and convinced far too many people that he cared about them for what he actually is – a weak con man and loser who was only ever out for himself.
I’m confident that, sadly, in spite of a swing away from Trump, many of our fearful legislators will swing quickly back calculating that they need his support to remain in power, but if Georgia’s Senate elections taught us anything, it’s that there is a finite amount of support for crazy and perhaps we have reached its limits.
I’m hopeful we can get back to the values that truly made America one of the greatest nations in the history of the human race, including those emblazoned on Lady Liberty. Her words should not just apply to immigrants, but also to all disenfranchised people. Perhaps in the next four years we can figure out how to start to remove hate from our lexicons and see each other just as people, more the same than different, or as Gus says in My Big Fat Greek Wedding,
Here tonight, we have, ah, apple and orange. We all different, but in the end, we all fruit.