“Poor man wanna be rich, rich man wanna be king. A king ain’t ever satisfied, ’til he rules everything.” ~Bruce Springsteen, Badlands
It has been 365 days since America had to choose between the two worst presidential candidates in modern American history. It was one year ago today that the American people elected the second-worst of those two candidates, but got stuck with the worst one through a technicality. Twelve months have passed since the big joke turned into a nightmare reality.
Administratively, and legislatively, Donald Trump has accomplished little since his inauguration. I’m not here to harass him about that. Much of what he wanted to do, on the campaign trail, was improbable, impractical, and, by most reasonable accounts, would do more harm than good. I don’t blame him, or Congress, for not “repealing and replacing” Obamacare. I blame them for trying, and applaud certain members of Congress for having the guts not to throw away something flawed for something altogether rotten. I don’t blame Donald Trump for not having a wall yet; the wall was a silly idea that garnered the votes of a disenfranchised, and disillusioned, middle America. It was never really going to be a thing.
I know that many of Donald Trump’s followers want to credit him for the rising stock market and low unemployment – even though they called both indicators fake during the campaign – but the truth is those were reaching historic highs years before the election. Donald Trump inherited a better economy from Barack Obama than Barack Obama inherited from George W. Bush. Not that any of the three have any real affect on the economy; presidents often get too much credit or blame for such things. In 2008, when then-candidate Barack Obama was facing off with then-candidate John McCain, I turned to anyone who would hear me and said that no matter who won, the economy will be in a decent place in 2016. Obama won. It was.
In 2008, for the record, I voted for Barack Obama. Really, though, I voted against Sarah Palin. It was my contention that nobody that stupid should ever be President of the United States. The last laugh was on me on that one. In 2016, we elected somebody dumber.
Just before Inauguration Day, in January of 2017, I wrote a piece called On Giving the Man a Chance. I said, in no uncertain terms, that I would not give Donald Trump “a chance.” He was a despicable human being. A corrupt businessman. A misogynist. An idiot, by his railing tweets. A man who stumbled into a position of money and influence before he ever entered the world and then used bullying tactics and a sociopathic nature to take what he wanted everywhere along the way. He was the worst kind of man we would want to lead the free world. I said he had to prove he deserved a chance. He proved exactly the opposite, very quickly, and ever since.
Instead of giving him a chance I proposed that we held him accountable. He had to prove to us that he was going to be a better president than he had ever been a man. I remember when he went tweet-silent in the first few weeks after his electoral victory. I remember when he said kind things about his political opponents. I thought … maybe …
But the real Donald Trump came rolling back before the middle of December and then never left again. The most reprehensible man on the planet proved to be the most reprehensible president. I’m not happy I was right.
And now, as the dark clouds close in around him, as we begin to see at least the vestiges of penance foreshadowed in the indictments handed to those who helped him win, there is some hope. Donald Trump might finally get what he truly deserves, and all the bluster in the world won’t save him then.
And, if not, if he somehow slides his way through another investigation into his perpetually shady dealings, then we will persevere, America. If the most corrupt man in America serves his entire 4-year stint as president, we will persevere. We have seen how ineffective it will be. We have seen the turnover, the tantrums, the abuse of power, and we know … this is just a bump in the road.
As this presidency – this great American mistake – plays itself out, the 66% of us who know better will learn a valuable lesson. We will demand better candidates. Better than Hillary Clinton. Better than Donald Trump. Much, much better.
Don’t let today be a sorrowful day, America, but a somber reminder of how far we fell. Never forget.
Never forget the time we let the bad guys win.
Never forget the time we almost let in authoritarian rule.
Someday we’ll all laugh about this together. We’ll look back, nearly all of us, and wonder how we ever let it get this far. How we ever let it get this low.
How we ever let Donald Trump be President of the United States.