I usually try not to speak too strongly about the politics of another country but this time it feels a bit different, so here are a few thoughts I’ve had while watching the 2020 US election unfold.
Joe Biden’s win is a good thing. It may not be the very best thing for the economy of the province where I live. It may not be the very best thing for some of the more vulnerable countries around the world (for all of his faults, Trump did a good job of keeping the US out of new wars). But Joe Biden’s win is the best thing for the greatest number of people. It’s the best thing for the pandemic. It’s the best thing for global stability on a larger scale. And it’s wonderful to see a leader who can reach across party lines and seems to care about more than just himself. No matter who holds it, I have great respect for elected office and I didn’t realize how much I had missed a president who behaves in a presidential way. Joe Biden is not perfect, but he’s a hell of an improvement.
Also worth celebrating: there have been 45 POTUSes and 48 VPOTUSes and every last one of them has been male, until now. In a country that’s 50.5% female, it’s almost hard to believe that Kamala Harris’ historic election didn’t come until now. This is not a comment on Harris’ record as a politician and lawmaker. It is to acknowledge a milestone for equality.
That said, I’m still gravely worried about the future. I’m concerned about the reaction we’ve seen from many of Biden’s supporters (or are they better described as Trump’s opponents?). Over 70 million people wanted a second term for Donald Trump, one in which he would have nothing to lose. That should give us all pause. At the same time, you can’t help but look at the massive crowds of people celebrating Biden’s win/Trump’s loss and recognize that a different outcome would have meant a far different mood among them. First responders and business owners along the party routes are probably breathing a sigh of relief.
I worry about our media. Trump’s longest-lasting legacy might be this hyper-partisan media that gives no quarter to its opponents. Many of these outlets may never regain their pre-Trump credibility. CNN used to be my go-to source for American news. Not anymore.
Things don’t magically change now. All of the circumstances that led to Trump’s rise to power are still here. He was a symptom of a far larger problem.
And the gloating we’re seeing seems to ignore all of this. To be clear, I’m not talking about Donald Trump himself. If that man even has feelings, I give zero shits about them. I’m talking about regular people who will have to find a way to bridge the gap between them and their countrymen if their country is to survive. Kumail Nanjiani, true to form, tweeted today “We must heal. But first, we must gloat.” Better to just admit you aren’t serious about healing and never were, Kumail. Meanwhile, neither Biden nor Harris have taken a single moment to gloat publicly. They understand the importance of delivering a message of unity, and I hope their supporters and the adjacent media will hear it.
It seems as though the American left has two paths forward. One is to try to realize President Biden’s message of a unified America. To try to understand why Trump resonated with so many people (and I refuse to believe ‘racism’ is the reason for 70 million ordinary people). To be the better people they espouse to be.
The other path is to rub it in the faces of the defeated, many of whom have also paid for Trump’s shortcomings, whether they know it or not. To take a long victory lap, or worse. Alexandria Occasio-Cortez inquired via Twitter yesterday about whether anyone was “archiving” Trump supporters who might try to downplay their complicity in the future. One has to ask what Congresswoman Occasio-Cortez would want to do with such a list. This is not the way.
The fires of Trumpism are still burning. It isn’t difficult to imagine what a more competent Trump-style politician might be able to accomplish.
I’d rather not find out.