Coming Down from the Sugar High


In the last weeks of January, and into the first two weeks of February, I was floating. I would wake each day, nearly bounding out of bed, and ready to take on the world. We were counting down the days to Biden’s inauguration, and even the horrific attack on the Capitol on the 6th was but a speed bump, easily acknowledged by both Democrats and Republicans as an obvious and seditious attack on the Constitutionally mandated work of the Congress.

The Dems impeached trump AGAIN. Biden was inaugurated without incident. And with trump silenced by Twitter, life was sweet.

Sadly, however, a few weeks sans trump had left the GOP with a bad case of amnesia, and, just last week, they yawned like teenagers through video evidence of trump’s guilt, and voted to acquit. 

I think it was then that the bubble burst, the sugar wore off, and I succumbed to serious lunch bag letdown.

My mania was entirely predictable; the end of the madness was in sight. For nearly five years I’d been banging the drum about the dangers of an unstable American president. I had spent nearly five years constantly on high alert, and I wasn’t even American.

I am not alone. Many in the media have mentioned that they’re still adjusting to their ‘new normal,’ of being able to set their phones down for the night without waiting for that ‘ding’ that used to shake them from an uneasy sleep with the news that there’d been a new tweet, a new horrific proclamation, a new addition to the litany of lies and fears and bullying. 

And yet. And yet. Some will admit to feeling a little – dare I say – bored? After four years of a constant, IV level epinephrine injection being propelled through their veins, life can seem a little dull, when the sounds of battle dim.

It’s withdrawal. Those who touched the live wire of American politics became hard core adrenaline junkies, as dependent on the ‘what has trump done NOW?’ news hit as any junkie who is frantic for a fix.

The dings and beeps and boops of cellphones and iPads were background noises that covered up the breathtaking realization of how close America was coming to losing her democracy. 

Seriously, even I could not have imagined some of the horrors that ensued during his reign of error and terror.

Worse still, there were times when I doubted my own thoughts, wondered if perhaps, I was the one that was deluded in my abhorrence of all things trump. After all, so many people, across all spectrums, (save minorities, immigrants, DREAMers and LGBTQ et al) seemed to truly believe that he was their Chosen One, the genius leading America to economic nirvana. Could it be that I was the one who was exaggerating, who saw parallels to Hitler’s worst followers and ‘solutions’ where none existed? That I might be, indeed, suffering from ‘Trump Delusion Syndrome?’

Could a stock market that absorbed every new presidential abomination by soaring to ever more unprecedented heights, be wrong?

Could I truly trust my own eyes and ears? Should I be ignoring all evidence of cruelty and rampant bigotry as figments of my imagination? After all, over 74 million American voters wanted him to continue what he’d started.

Was I the one that was wrong? Was I the one out of step with the crowd, out of touch with the times? 

I wondered if I could be somehow mistaken in my reasoning, even as Trump refused to accept the results of an election that his own officials had proclaimed ‘the most secure in American electoral history,” incited his followers to attack the Capitol, urged them to wreak their anger against his own vice president, then flounced off in a huff, refusing to acknowledge Biden’s inauguration.

And I second guessed myself, despite it being quite obvious that trump was treading on fascist territory, while his supporters created an imaginary foe they called ‘antifa,’ apparently unable to see that they were labelling deniers of trump’s governance as ‘anti fascists’ thus admitting that his governance was indeed fascism.

If what is true, if what is right, relies upon a majority, relies upon the victor writing history – what did that terrifyingly small (figuratively) Biden majority say about the future of America?

Anti-Semitism, weapons-grade misogyny, white supremacism, homophobia and quite horrible attempts to frame all Muslim people as complicit in the actions of any Muslim terrorist or criminal have moved squarely into the mainstream media. I believe this has happened precisely because divisive sloganeering and rancid rhetoric have gone unchecked. In short, people are not being challenged to justify their views, or to explain WHY they think what they do…

Fascism prevails when anti-fascists persuade themselves that what’s happening in their own country isn’t actually fascism after all, because “this isn’t 1930s Germany – this is 21st century America!” …

Trump’s legacy is clear: Fascism can happen here. And people that hate fascism, to give it a 21st century flavour, are currently called “woke.” James O’Brien, LBC commentator

It was a rough ride.

And then, on a bright day in January, this happened.

“I know speaking of unity can sound to some like a foolish fantasy. I know the forces that divide us are deep and they are real. But I also know they are not new.

Our history has been a constant struggle between the American ideal that we are all created equal and the harsh, ugly reality that racism, nativism, fear, and demonization have long torn us apart. The battle is perennial. Victory is never assured.“  Joseph R. Biden, January 20, 2021

Biden’s stirring inaugural speech told America – told the world – that it HAD been as bad as it seemed, that America HAD come very close to losing it all, and that there still was a battle to be fought. He admitted that the heartbreaking fight between those who watched the horror with glee and did nothing to stop it, and those who believed in the ‘better angels’ who had always prevailed through all the struggles, sacrifice and setbacks the nation had faced thru the years, was real.

He assured us that the attack on January 6th was on democracy and on the truth. Objective truth. And that we were done with lies and cruelty.

Sometimes courage is just speaking up, calling out what you see, even when it’s not blindingly apparent, even when others try to tell you it’s not as bad as you think it is. It’s speaking out even when many you know and love cling to a would-be dictator, pretending to see his actions as those of an all-knowing, infallible quasi-God, because his voracious appetites allow their own greed and selfishness to seem ‘normal.’

There is no joy in being ‘right’ about trump. There’s no schadenfreude in watching his supporters in tears. There’s relief – but no joy.

And what is left?

The entire world watched a rigged impeachment trial and saw trump acquitted of inciting insurrection against his own country. Can any rational leader of any other country truly believe that the United States can be trusted again, when the votes of 74 million Americans showed their disdain for democracy?

What the world has seen is the tsunami of change that can happen overnight, brought about by the will of the voters. Are they to trust that, four years from now, the treaties and agreements they’ve signed under one administration, will be honoured by the next?

America has been divided into two camps. One camp believes that Joe Biden is not the legitimate president. Armed and dangerous, they lurk in the shadows, and plan for the next time they are called to do battle in the service of their savior.

“On Thursday evening, CNN reported that the close to 5,000 National Guard troops who have been stationed around the Capitol since shortly after the Jan. 6 insurgency will stay in place until March 12. If it seems odd that the Guard is still in place weeks after President Biden was sworn in on Jan. 21, the reason they’re sticking around is because of another inauguration date. That would be the Mar. 4 date when many QAnon followers expect Donald Trump to emerge from hiding to be sworn in as the 19th president of the United States. (Daily Kos, Feb 2021.) 

The deluded portion of the American population that does not believe or care about democratic principles, civil rights, or the rule of law, will ‘march forth’ on March 4th. They will obey what they believe is the will of their racist demagogue, unable to conceive that overturning the rights of the more than 81 million Americans who voted for Biden can never be justified by the demanding of their own rights.

And if they are not rewarded with the sight of their enemies hung for their sins, and the elevation of their leader to what they believe is his rightful place in American government, they will bide their time, but they will try again. And again.

In Biden’s first month in office, he has accomplished much to turn the ship of state around and to right many of the wrongs committed in the last four years. Every day, his policies and actions have chipped away at the assault against democracy perpetrated by the trump administration.

And it is good. It is a throwing open of the window and the letting in of fresh, clean air.

But those who would prefer the not so tender ministrations of the Republican party under trump continue to hamper these efforts.

“Our choice of leaders matters. Our respect for institutions matters. Trust in the democratic process matters. Freedom of the press matters. An independent judiciary matters. And it matters that America continues to believe itself a country that welcomes “your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”  (Jake Cusak, Marine Corps office, in 2016)

America is learning that democracy is a fragile thing, and that the price to maintain it is constant vigilance.

And we who look on will continue to seesaw between hope and despair, placing our bets on the ‘better angels’ odds of winning over those who would bedevil the nation.

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