A Patriot’s Post-Election Depression


Photo by Elias Castillo | Unsplash

Photo by Elias Castillo | Unsplash

My first experience in politics was being paid ten dollars for twelve hours handing out “literature” outside a polling place. I was working for a small local candidate, and I barely understood the game of politics. At the time, Nixon was spanking McGovern across the country, but in Baltimore City, a Democrat stronghold, McGovern ran the table. My fellow canvassers and I were quite a group – trying to persuade voters to pull the lever for our ticket. At the end of the day, the winners celebrated, and the losers went home. I didn’t know if I won or lost, but it was a good time, and I learned quite a bit from the old pros working the polls.  

 

At the end of a football game, the players meet in the center of the field, shake hands, exchange jerseys, chat about friends and family. After a presidential election, there are also certain norms that we have come to know. The loser calls the winner, extends congratulations on a race well-run, offers to assist if asked, and then addresses their supporters. The usual spiel is that “it is time to come together for the good of the country” and that we should “support the winner.” The crowd goes home, the loser has a few rough days, and life goes on.  

 

But this year, it is depressing. The game changed. Joe Biden won the election, but there was no concession from Donald Trump. While the major TV outlets have called the election, we still wait for the official certification of the states’ vote count. It is nothing more than a formality at this point, as Biden has amassed an insurmountable lead in electors.  

Still, it feels like plain torture to watch this all unfold. The loser is refusing to play his part in the game. No congratulations, no best wishes, no handshake, no jersey exchange, no nothing. 

Realizing that he has not won a second term in the White House, President Trump has decided to figuratively burn it to the ground. He will not cooperate in the transition of power to a new administration, and he is intent on making the work of the next president as difficult as possible.

 

The transition from one administration to another is not just a routine exercise in good citizenship. It is an obligation that Trump has chosen to ignore. He is withholding both the financial and logistical support to enable the Biden administration to function smoothly on day one of Biden’s presidency. Since the “ascertainment” of the president-elect is not official until the states certify their votes, Trump can legally prevent Biden from preparing to take over. Biden is trying to keep a low profile and transition as best he can, but the circumstances are difficult. Trump’s failure to bring Biden up to speed – in national security, for example – has the potential to harm the country. Biden should know what is on the horizon before Inauguration Day.  

 

The recent breakthrough in developing an effective vaccine to combat the Covid-19 virus is marvelous. Trump deserves some credit for the success of Operation Warp Speed. It appears that the hard work has been done, but we are not out of the woods yet. It might be another six to eight months before the vaccine is readily available to all who want it. Delivery and distribution could be a logistical nightmare. In the meantime, the virus continues to spread, the deaths continue to mount up, and Trump has no plans and little interest in slowing it down. Biden has assembled a team and wants to put together a national response, but Trump will not permit his people to cooperate with Biden.

 

Trump is well aware that Biden would like to normalize U.S. foreign relations after four years of Trump’s isolationist policies. So, in a last-minute bid, he is impulsively removing American troops from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Somalia. Republicans, Democrats, generals, senior advisers, the now-former Secretary of Defense, and many more have tried to convince him to wait for a better time to make this move. In what appears to be another effort to hinder the incoming administration, he seems poised to order this drawdown immediately. If our international partners decide to join the exodus, our ability to head off terrorist activity could be severely dampened.

 

Trump is also making a mad dash to impact environmental policy. On Monday, his administration announced that it would begin selling leases that would allow oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska (or “ANWAR”). The lease sales could occur just before Inauguration Day, leaving the Biden administration with the task of reversing them. It is maddening.

 

I can’t help but think if Trump had shown such urgency for infrastructure, an immigration policy, racial justice, energy innovation, and more. He would have been reelected without even having to campaign.

 

Trump’s scorched earth attacks are most troubling as he devastates public confidence in our election system. This assault began early in the 2020 race as he proclaimed that he could only lose if the election were fraudulent. He condemned voting by mail, even though he used that same system to cast ballots. He reasoned that it worked in Florida, his home state, but nowhere else. Recent post-election exit polling suggests that as many as 70% of Republicans do not have confidence in our elections.

 

Trump’s mantra about fraud and cheating and fixing has been relentless for months. It reflects a strategy he has employed throughout his life and career: if you say it enough times, people will believe it. Truth is not relevant, especially if it gets in the way of one’s goals.  

 

The heart of our democratic government is free and fair elections. Trump’s constant denigration of this sacred convention could have repercussions for years into the future. It is truly a depressing thought.   

 

The divided country that Trump inherited in 2017 has only become more divided. Much of it due to his rhetoric, incivility, authoritarian style, disregard for others, refusal to compromise, and the paranoid rejection of advice from anyone, even his most trusted allies. He and his sycophants live in a vacuum-sealed echo chamber, much to the detriment of our country.

 

Yes, I am depressed by what he has done to us in four short years. That feeling is compounded further by knowing that the damage he has sown will take more than four years to uproot. Still, I trust that the people will eventually accept Joe Biden as president and try to help him produce a positive outcome for all of us. It will take some time, but I am hopeful that my depression will be alleviated sooner rather than later. 

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