Commentary: It’s the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat. And when the contest is over, we meet at midfield, shake hands and go to happy hour together. In sports, yes, but not in politics. Politics is a blood sport and to the victor go the spoils.
Long before a winner was declared in the presidential election, some people were calling for peace. A popular meme read, “After the election… If you win, don’t gloat. If you lose, don’t despair. This has been hard on all of us. Treat others the way you want to be treated. We all will need it.”
While we appreciate the Golden Rule, it will take some time to come around to that line of thinking. Besides, the defeated president should be the one leading on uniting the nation since he, more than anyone, divided it.
For the past four years, we have been harassed with names like demoncrats, libtards, snowflakes, demorats, and others not as nice.
Trump used schoolyard names for his opponents. Crooked Hillary, Crazy Bernie, Shifty Adam Schiff, Pocahontas Elizabeth Warren, Crazy Nancy Pelosi, and, most recently, Sleepy Joe Biden and questioning his mental capacities. His tribe laughed uncontrollably at the taunts.
Trumpers spent the past four years telling us, “Fuck your feelings.” The flags and T-shirts were visible at every Trump rally and readily available on Amazon.
Right-wingers embraced anything that would “own the libs,” even if it were harmful to the country or themselves. They placed twisting the knife in liberal’ stomachs as a top priority. Trump delivered.
But now they want us to put the election behind us and have a Kumbaya moment together?
When Trump won the presidency in 2016, he was anything but reconciliatory. Fully a month after his election win, the president-elect went on a victory tour. At every stop, he used each opportunity to gloat about his come from behind victory and boasted about the emotional pain he had inflicted on Democrats by winning. The crowds ate it up because he was owning the libs.
Throughout his presidency, Trump gloated that just by occupying the White House, he was infuriating his critics. He’d say, “I’m here and they’re not.” This year on the campaign trail, he’d stand in front of his admirers and wallow in recounting the anguish of his opponents on election night 2016. The crowd was in a frenzy as he was still owning the libs.
While COVID-19 was spreading across the nation the president failed to take the pandemic seriously and admitted he “downplayed” it. His documented lies directly led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Americans. Republicans rose to their leader’s defense with statements like, “it’s not his fault,” and “it’s no worse than the flu.” Anything less than complete submission to their leader would be caving to the democrats, who were exaggerating the virus to make Trump look bad, according to them.
Trump made the simple act of wearing a mask a culture war. Those of us who chose to wear masks to protect others as well as ourselves became to subject of ridicule. Trump himself mocked reporters and Joe Biden for wearing them. It was mostly Trump supporters refusing to mask up at stores and restaurants, throwing hissy fits that would embarrass a three-year-old.
Trump mocked Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer for trying to keep her constituents safe and bragged about how “his” FBI caught the right-wing militia that sought to attempt to kidnap her, put her on trial and execute her. And his cult-like followers chanted “lock her up.” Owning the libs.
It isn’t just the president who shows a lack of character. The hypocrisy of the GOP was on full display when the Senate confirmed a Trump-appointed Supreme Court judge a week before the election this year. In 2016, they refused to do the same for a Barack Obama nominee because “it was an election year.” Republican voters re-elected Senators Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham despite their open hypocrisy. Take that, you libtards.
President-elect Biden is encouraging all Americans to unite. “With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do if we do it together.”
We will eventually heed our new president’s advice, but for now, we need a little time to gloat. After years of mocking, ridicule, taunts, and gloating, one doesn’t walk away from an abusive relationship without scars.
Writing this column has been especially difficult as I have several family members and friends who supported Trump. They are some of the kindest and gentle people I know. They were not the people riding around with “fuck your feelings” flags and yelling, “lock her up” at rallies.
But make no mistake, they supported “a race-baiting, xenophobic religious bigot,” (Lindsey Graham’s description), who was leading us down the road to fascism. They can reconcile that with themselves.
Humans often are characterized by the company they keep. Are we to judge people by who they vote for as well? Perhaps this is a good time for all of us to take time to reflect and examine our core values. Does character still matter? Then maybe we can put this national nightmare behind us and move on.