We went to bed by 10 on election day. My wife and I had been working to get out the Hillary vote in Ohio over the past week. There was nothing left to do but get dinner, go back to the motel to watch her claim her victory, and then head home to Maryland the next morning. (Maryland was safe for the Democrats, which is why we decided to work for the campaign in Ohio, Cincinnati to be precise).
Things did not work out as we anticipated and we went to bed by 10. On the 8-hour car ride home, we did not play the radio for even a minute. To this day, we have not watched Trump’s victory speech and certainly not Hillary’s concession. In fact, we pretty much stopped watching television until the Women’s March on January 21. We were there on the Mall and wanted to relive it on the tube as well.
But not even the march relieved the misery. How could this have happened? How could Donald Trump, of all people, been elected? Yes, we’ve gone through bad elections before: Nixon, Reagan, and George W. Bush. But those Republicans were nothing like Trump.
For one, none of them was elected after running a campaign of open race baiting, the mocking of the disabled, and had a record of abusing women. Besides, all three had good resumes, with service respectively as Vice President and as governor of two of our largest states. They had, at the very least, the standing to run for president.
Trump had nothing except a big mouth and celebrity, and money of course.
Nonetheless, he won.
And I expected the worse, in this case that, initially, he wouldn’t be ridiculous because he would be changed, as the presidency has changed almost all of his predecessors. Having achieved the status conferred by the most desired position in the country, he would feel no need to continue his petty and childish behavior. Why call names when you won?
I also feared that the media and the political class would accelerate the process of normalizing him that had begun as soon as he won the first primary. He would get away with every absurd comment and tweet and every ridiculous job appointment. Every awful thing we learned about his history during the campaign would disappear into the ether. He would be President Of The United States and, as such, he would get a free pass for a year or for a full term (at least). With a Republican Congress, no one could challenge him.
But I had not reckoned one one thing. I had not understood that Trump would not only continue his off-the-wall behavior as president, he would intensify it. I had not understood that because he has no knowledge of American history, and hence no reverence for the presidency, he would just continue to be Donald Trump not the president.
But that is what he has done. From the trivia, like his embarrassing wars with Saturday Night Live and Nordstrom’s, to the appalling like the Russian connection, he is more outrageous and embarrassing to the country than even his worst critics dared to imagine.
And now with the Flynn affair, only four weeks into his presidency, Donald Trump appears to be as close (maybe even closer) to the premature end of his presidency as Richard Nixon was at the time of the Saturday Night Massacre, almost five years into his term. To say there is no Trump honeymoon is an understatement, Trump looks to be near the end of his tether. A national and international joke.
Am I wrong to be happy about this? No, this presidency should not have happened and its early termination through resignation or impeachment will be the best sign we could possibly have that our system still works. The alternative, that Trump could get away with all this is awful to contemplate.
The good news is that he is not getting away with it. Even the Republicans are turning on him. After four months, I’m putting my television back on. The sadness has lifted.
Otto Von Bismarck may indeed have had it right when he said that “God has a special providence for fools, drunks, and the United States of America.” We shall see.