Were the Last 4 Years Just a Bad Dream?
Having watched the stately inauguration of President Joe Biden, the graciousness with which Trump’s former Vice President treated President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, and seeing President Biden immediately get to work on the nation’s most pressing concerns, there was a feeling that the past 4 years with Trump were little more than a nightmare our nation had awoken from. Contrast this with early 2017 when the newly sworn in President Trump and his combative press secretary Sean Spicer spent the majority of their time obsessing over Trump’s inauguration crowd size than actual real Presidential business and all of the exhaustive chaos that would follow in the next 4 years, it is no wonder that this about face return to normal governance makes the past 4 years seem like little more than a surreal nightmare.
The problem is that it really did happen and left me for the first time seeing exactly how autocracy can happen when corrupt leadership taxes the limits of even the most stable democracy’s institutions, and a major party enables corruption in the name of staying in power; even in the United States of America, the beacon of democracies around the world. It also exposed the putrid underbelly of white supremacism and xenophobia that is still pervasive in the United States, as fringe neo-Nazis groups felt empowered by Trump to rear their ugly heads in plain sight.
With a republican base by in large looking the other way as Trump’s tweets, rhetoric, and actions flouted even basic standards of décor and decency because they got the policies and SCOTUS picks that they so badly coveted, right wing hate and extremism gained a legitimate platform in the GOP that at the very least tolerated their empowerment in Trump’s new GOP. At the same time, Trump’s autocratic behavior was enabled by GOP lawmakers that either saw it in their best political interests to pander to Trump or even so craved a strangle hold on power that supported an erosion of democracy in Trump’s (and subsequently their) favor.
Make no mistake, Trump happened, and things occurred during his reign of chaos, lies and corruption that were previously thought to be unheard of in our American democracy:
- Constant attacks on our free press, labelling them “enemy of the people.”
- Colluding with a foreign adversary to interfere in the 2016 election on his behalf.
- Firing an FBI director for not pledging loyalty to him and opening an investigation on Trump’s campaign for collusion with Russia.
- Threatening to withhold aid from an ally to dig up dirt on the family of his political rival.
- Planting the seeds of distrust in the integrity of the 2020 election with baseless claims of widespread voter fraud that not one single court upheld.
- Inciting an armed insurrection against the US Capital to prevent certification of election results.
This just a mere sampling of Trump’s abuses of power he committed throughout his 4 year term. The point is, Trump happened and happened in very damaging ways. Thankfully, our institutions barely held on to ultimately protect our democracy and the peaceful transfer of power to the duly elected new administration and wrest power from a would be malignant narcissist dictator.