[This article originally ran at Newsmakers with Jerry Roberts.]
Donald Trump smashed, damaged and viciously attacked countless touchstones, values and institutions of American democracy in four years – a term of political, legal, ethical, cultural and personal misconduct shaped by indecency and demagoguery.
Fundamentally, his most reprehensible dereliction of duty has been this: Unlike all previous occupants of the White House, Trump never attempted, or even made a pretense of trying, to unify the country.
From the start, he instead made clear he was President of the Red States, not the United States. He never ceased to rip and hack and tear at the divisions in the nation — over race, religion, gender, sexual preference and immigration status, for starters – seeing self-interest in making conflicts more bitter, more painful and more inflamed, through an endless stream of abusive words, poisonous lies and inhumane policies.
Now Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have dealt Trump a humiliating defeat, not because of their platform or policy prescriptions, or even because of the incumbent’s utter failure of leadership in confronting the coronavirus, but because of the former vice-president’s promise to pursue this most core and first duty — to work to be a unifier, not a divider, who serves as President of all the people of the nation.
With more than 10 weeks left in office, Trump’s recklessness, authoritarian impulses and lust for power remain sources of fear and anxiety for the majority of Americans who just voted to fire him.
It also is troubling and true that his toxic brand of politics, with its dark cloud of menace and violence, will remain present and dense as Biden begins his efforts to deal with the four great crises that erupted under Trump – the pandemic, economic collapse and a reckoning over racism, all transpiring amid a dangerous atmosphere of deep political polarization last seen in the years before the Civil War.
Today, however, is a day for history and celebration. Thanks, congratulations and best thoughts and wishes are due President-elect Joe Biden, who has triumphed over Trump in the first crucial contest in what he has rightly identified as “the battle for the soul of America.”
P.S. What Van Jones said.