This is the last day of Trump’s presidency. He leaves an unfathomable amount of devastation in his wake and may not face any consequences for all the wrong he has done. He will leave no legacy beyond the stench of rank incompetence.
I am tired of reciting all his crimes, misdeeds, and failures. Trump was a cruel, petty tyrant of a president who surrounded himself with similarly terrible people, slobbering sycophants, and political operatives who knew they could advance their agendas so long as they told him what he wanted to hear.
Trump is the living embodiment of shamelessness. He cannot be shamed. He does not care about the 400,000 dead Americans he has barely acknowledged. He does not care about the suffering he has caused. He does not care about anything that happens beyond the country’s borders. He does not care that he has disrupted the peaceful transfer of power. He is a catastrophe and he does not care. His children are exactly like him. His wife is exactly like him. I wish nothing but the very worst for them, for the rest of their days.
Since January 6th, I have been holding my breath, wondering what terrible thing Trump will do next. I’ve been holding my breath, waiting for his followers to riot again, or storm another federal building in a futile attempt to overturn democracy. I hate this reality where absolutely anything can happen because the country has been run into the ground by a shameless, corrupt gameshow host and bankrupt businessman.
We know some of what will happen today. Trump will pardon a whole lot of people, most of whom are nearly as bad as he is. People “close to the president,” will continue to leak stories to their favorite journalists in vain attempts to frame themselves as voices of reason in an unreasonable situation. There may be more ridiculous executive orders or racist reports trying to rewrite American history. And then, on Wednesday morning, Trump will leave the White House. He will have a poorly attended send off he will lie about for the rest of his days because he is all ego. Everything he does, everything he demands, is designed to serve his narcissism. Without external validation, he will fall apart.
The inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris should be a celebration, not only because a humane person has been elected as the 46th president of the United States (the lowest bar), but because Kamala Harris will be the first woman vice-president, the first Black vice-president, the first South Asian vice-president. Whether you share her politics or not, this is a big deal and it has been completely forgotten as we watch the spectacle that is the Trump presidency sputters to its inevitably ignominious end.
The Biden/Harris administration will have at least two years with Democratic control of the House and Senate. With enough political will, they might get a few things done. I am not deluding myself into thinking that a radical progressive agenda will be enacted though it absolutely should be. But I do know this country will finally take the pandemic seriously. There will be some measure of financial relief for the people who need it most. The draconian efforts of the Trump administration will be undone. The federal government will stop executing people. We will raise the bar for what we expect from our elected leaders, and, maybe, what we expect from ourselves.
I take comfort in this—as terrible as Trump has been, and as much damage as he has caused, he will be forgotten. Like I said, he ha no legacy. If he has a presidential library, it will be filled with McDonald’s wrappers and empty soda cans and TV Guides. He will spend his final years in court trying to evade prosecution and prison, and dealing with creditors, and watching his sham of an empire crumble. His coterie of sycophants will fall away as his power fades. He’ll bloviate and bluster and lie to himself to keep what remains of his fragile ego intact. His wife will leave him. His children will continue to disappoint him as they desperately seek approval they will never get.
One day, a couple years from now, he will hold a rally and a handful of people will show up wearing those all too familiar red hats and misspelled signs. He will trudge across the stage to the microphone and give a half-hearted smirk. He will look into the audience and know that no one but the assembled band of misfits cares what he has to say. The hollow applause will haunt him. Later, he will return to his country club, because he doesn’t really have a home anymore, and the only people still there will be people he pays. He’ll be unable to look himself in the mirror as he watches cable news and tries to get his former friends on the phone and sips a diet coke. And he will have to live with the knowledge that once, he was the most unpopular president in American history and still, he ended up with nothing. Still, he ended up as nothing.