The end of the road

The American people have spoken. This is the end of the road for Donald Trump’s presidency.

By virtually all accounts, voting has gone as well as could be expected amid a pandemic. Despite the fears of many, widespread civil unrest has not broken out. Donald Trump’s reaction has been contained to the expected: angry tweets and frivolous litigation. The results we’ve seen so far speak for themselves.

At this point, I’m willing to call it: Joseph R. Biden Jr. will be the 46th President of the United States.

Watching Biden speak earlier today was incredible. For the first time in four years, I felt like I was listening to a president, rather than an irascible school bully. If, like me, you’ve got a few minutes to watch it while sitting through CNN’s irritatingly repetitive ad breaks, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The reality is that this election could have gone either way. It certainly wasn’t the “blue wave” that many like myself had been hoping for. Had Trump received a few thousand more votes in the right places, we’d be staring down the barrel of a second term for Trump right now. Scary, I know.

My greatest takeaway from the last three days has been this: we need to stop pretending that Trump’s supporters are irrelevant — they aren’t. This election has unquestionably demonstrated that. In spite of the president’s innumerable wrongdoings, almost 50% of American voters have cast their vote for Donald J. Trump.

Since Wednesday, I’ve spoken with the few remaining Trump supporters I know, and one thing is abundantly clear: they genuinely believe the utter nonsense that comes out of Trump’s mouth — even the baseless claim that this election has been “stolen”. The thing I find most frightening about this is that these are people I consider to be relatively intelligent, and capable of thinking for themselves. If even they are willing to support Trump’s nonsensical views, it’s not at all surprising that 50% of America is as well.

I’ve come to the realisation that presenting these people with facts is futile. They simply don’t listen. It’s as if they’ve lost the ability to comprehend that maybe, just maybe, reality is comprised of more than what the imperious President Trump wants them to believe.

In the current social and political climate, the ability to think independently is more important than ever before, so it’s deeply concerning that people, smart people, seem incapable of doing so.

What do we do, then? How do we close the great divide that has engulfed political discourse not just in the United States, but the world?

Truthfully, I don’t know.

Answering this question will take time. Fortunately, there are few people better than Joe Biden to lead the effort to heal this division. A lifelong member of the D.C. establishment, he is brilliantly equipped to build a bridge between the Democratic and Republican parties, and restore political decency in the United States.

The next two months will be tumultuous as Donald Trump does everything in his power to undermine democracy. He will undercut faith in the institutions which have been sacrosanct in the United States for centuries. He will attempt to delegitimise a legitimate president-elect. The United States has weathered many storms in its 243-year history, and it will weather this one too.

There’s a longer, greater battle ahead. Soon, Donald Trump will be gone, but his cancerous grasp on society won’t. Bringing people back together will take time and work, it will be hard, and there will be setbacks — a Trump-like figure may well take the presidency once again, but I have faith that the people of the United States are capable of rising to this challenge.

Right now, though, there is real cause for celebration. This nightmare is drawing to a close. A woman of colour will serve as Vice President of the United States. Basic decency will return to the highest office in the land. For the first time in four years, the future is looking up.

For our sake, let this be the end of the road for Trumpism, and the beginning of the long road to unity. If it’s not, we’ll have bigger problems to address than Donald Trump.

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