The title of this blog, of course, quotes President Gerald Ford’s famous words on national television upon the resignation of Richard Nixon in 1974—I had long planned (and hoped) that these would be the words I’d post on Facebook if Donald Trump was denied a second term.
When I woke up the next day, there seemed to be some hope—reports seemed to indicate that the states still in play were trending Biden’s way. As the pollsters had predicted, the early voting ballots in many states, which the Democrats had pushed and Trump had discouraged among his own followers, were now being counted and trending Biden’s way; and many of the remaining areas yet to be counted were Democratic strongholds. Minnesota and Wisconsin soon fell into Biden’s column. Then it seemed all eyes were on Arizona, Nevada, Georgia and Pennsylvania. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I tend to be a pessimist about such things, but simple math made me feel cautiously optimistic. I could now see how the electoral map was trending—nearly all of the remaining states were leaning towards Biden and he only had to win one or two of them to put him over the top, while Trump had to sweep them all to win. While Biden had many paths to victory, Trump had only one. Not impossible, but highly improbable.
Nevertheless, the count continued through the week with the remaining states too close to call, dragging out the suspense. I felt it was important for the race to be called—if, as was anticipated, Biden was definitively named President-Elect, it would grant him a legitimacy that would make it difficult for Trump to assail, even in the courts.
Saturday morning, November 7, I woke up and was checking the news feeds on my mobile device when I received a text from my sister with a screenshot that CNN had called the race for Biden, with the other networks soon following with the same call.
|Cartoon by David Parkins|
Between now and January 20, of course, Trump can still cause a lot of chaos. His allegations have been made with no shred of truth to back them. But the writing on the wall is there, Biden’s victory is definitive and nearly unassailable.
The victory speeches of the President-Elect and the Vice President-Elect were a salve, reminding me and others of the dignity and sense of national unity that have been missing in the presidency and our national discourse the past four years. Both addresses were moving and Biden--often derided as “Sleepy Joe” by Trump--gave what I thought was an electrifying, inspirational speech, the address of a lifetime.
The spontaneous jubilations and celebrations that broke out around the country--indeed, worldwide--felt like a great release, many saying it felt like a dictatorship had ended (some even compared it to the end of Star Wars: The Return of the Jedi, when the Death Star was destroyed.)
It can’t be denied that Trump did better than expected—the turnout underscored the strong support Trump garners among his base. While his approval ratings throughout his presidency never exceeded 50 percent—indeed his average 40 percent is a record low -- that base has stayed incredible loyal. Fortunately, those who supported Biden and repudiated Trump were similarly energized.
As many people noted, the U.S. narrowly dodged a bullet by unseating a dangerous, authoritarian figure through peaceful democratic means. However, looking ahead, whether or not Trump will respect the tradition of a peaceful transfer of power is another story. By not doing so, he risks further destabilizing the country and de-legitimizing Biden’s presidency.