As I write this, the slow-but-steady counting of mail-in ballots have put soon-to-be-President-Elect Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. in the lead in Georgia and Pennsylvania, with no reason to think that trend is going to change. There’s nothing surprising about the way the vote has shifted in those states. Our current commander-in-chief discouraged his followers from trusting absentee ballots. In Pennsylvania, the Republican legislature ensured that those ballots would be counted last. And yet Donald Trump is acting like the whole U.S. electoral system—which put him in office despite losing the popular vote four years ago—is rigged against him.
He’s losing the election and looking for anything and everything to blame. Suppression polls. Illegal voting. The media. He’s been basking in the adoration of his followers on the campaign trail and can’t imagine that the guy in the mask speaking to a few hundred people in cars could possibly be America’s choice. There must be fraud.
Trump’s unhinged speech last night was a depressing reminder of why, for millions of us, these last four years have been one long, exhausting nightmare. We’ve been living with a president who has nothing but scorn for anyone who doesn’t blindly support him. He’s a leader who sees more than half of those he leads as the enemy.
Tuesday night was supposed to be cathartic for those not on the Trump train, but all it did was bring back bad memories of 2016. The polls were wrong once again. The Southern bellwethers of Florida, Georgia and North Carolina were disheartening, especially if you were following The New York Times’ election needle, which was using incorrect data for Georgia most of the night. The path was still there for Biden when we all desperately tried to find sleep, but it felt too dangerous to hope.
Throughout the day yesterday, my brain was telling me that Trump had almost no path to victory, but my heart refused that solace. Four more years of having such a terrible person as president was too anxiety-inducing to relax.
I’ve listed the 10 worst things Trump has done in his political career. But what I failed to mention while highlighting his obvious transgressions are all the not-so little ways he’s defied the norms of governance and exposed the fragility of our 244-year-old experiment. If the president breaks the law and his allies in Congress refuse to act, what will stop him from getting bolder and bolder in his criminality? Who will stop him from using the White House to run his campaign? Who will stop those seeking favor from dropping money in his hotels or deferring his massive loans? When he tried to bribe a foreign president to dig up dirt on his political opponent, using taxpayer money as leverage, and all but one member of his party in the House and Senate declined to take action, there was no consequence for (once again) putting his personal interests ahead of the nation.
The election was the only thing that could stop him. And he’s desperately trying to find a way to ignore that, as well. He’s trying to find enough allies who need his support for their own political ambitions to prop up his claims that our votes shouldn’t count. Remember the names Ted Cruz and Lindsay Graham, who debased themselves on Fox for him last night.
Joe Biden was not my first choice for president, and my expectations for him to fix the many problems of our nation are low. We have imprisoned more of our people than any other nation, accounting for a full quarter of the world’s prison population via a justice system that has disproportionally punished minorities—and outsourced the punishment to private prisons. As of this week, we joined Iran, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and South Sudan as one of a handful of nations not in the Paris climate agreement. Our immigration policy is as cruel as it is inefficient. And economic inequality has reached the point where the top 1% of U.S. households have more wealth than the bottom 50% combined. We still don’t have a national healthcare system, and we’re still in the middle of a pandemic and the economic turmoil it’s caused.
But I woke up this morning with hope. It may not have been the emphatic election night I’d dreamed of, but if Georgia, Pennsylvania, Arizona and Nevada go blue, Biden will have defeated Trump by at least as much as the “massive landslide victory” in 2016 he likes to brag about. A historic number of Americans will have rejected his bluster, his disregard for the law, his bullying and his incompetence.
Whether or not Biden spends the next four years unable to get any of his legislative priorities through, he can spend the time undoing the harm that’s been done to our nation and helping heal our wounds. There’s plenty of time to worry about how to bring about change for the better, to get people to the polls for the important Jan. 5 Senate runoffs in my home state of Georgia, and to keep the long arc of the moral universe bending toward justice. But today? Today is a day to take a breath and enjoy the overwhelming sense of relief as vote counting continues to seal the deal in the key remaining states. Donald Trump’s eviction notice is coming soon.