The images flashing across the television screen this week were appalling but compelling. I couldn’t look away, even when I didn’t want to see, much less believe, what was happening in my nation’s capitol. An estimated 10,000 of mostly white people who looked like me stormed the Capitol building in Washington, DC where the Senate and House of Representatives were in session to count the votes the 50 states’ electors had sent to the two bodies for a ceremony that was usually a pro forma final recognition of the results of the previous November election.
Not so much this year. Donald Trump, not unlike Humpty Dumpty, had sat on the largest wall of power in the world as president of the United States and had suffered a great fall when he lost his position in a free and fair election on November 03, 2020. Since that loss, apparently all the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Donald Trump together again.
The king’s men ran around the country challenging election results in scores of courts ranging from state and federal courts to the Supreme Court of the United States with the same decisions. Humpty Dumpty lost fair and square; please stop bothering us with baseless complaints. But Mr. Trump, who had spent most of his adult life in court battles long ago learned to believe the courts were fallible – even unreliable. He thought his appointment of not one, not two, but three Supreme Court justices during his term of office would finally give him the wins he so desperately craved through the legal system. Shockingly, to him and me, the courts held fast and repeatedly ruled against him.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch or the White House if you prefer, the Covid pandemic raged on with more ferocity than a Category 5 hurricane. Ignoring the warnings of our medicine men, millions of Americans traveled throughout the country by plane, train, bus and automobile during the holiday season to visit friends and family who either unknowingly carried the coronavirus to the travelers or caught it from them. Rates of infections in the past two weeks have skyrocketed while hospitals and their staffs have been stressed to breaking points. Deaths stand at nearly 370,000 individuals today. Mr. Trumpty hasn’t noticed, or if he has noticed, he hasn’t commented on the losses.
He did, however, promise that the king’s horses would deliver a hundred million doses of new vaccines by the end of 2020 when in fact Newsweek reported on December 28th. that the actual number of vaccines administered on that date was closer to 2.1 million. Another loss to absorb and ignore.
Was it really just one week ago today that Mr. Trump called the Georgia Secretary of State to ask him to find 11,780 votes to reverse the results of the November election in Georgia? Gosh, that bullying phone call, which accomplished nothing more than another revelation of his delusion, seems tame now compared to the events I witnessed four days later on January 6th.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty together again. Mr. Trump’s big lie that he won re-election in November, a lie that he tweeted incessantly over social media, a lie that he used to raise hundreds of millions of dollars from his more than 74 million faithful followers who voted to re-elect him was the lie that led to the images of destruction and deaths in our nation’s Capitol this week.
Many of the king’s men and women reported for duty at a large rally in which the king and his surrogates urged them to storm the Capitol to bring an end once and for all to the transition of power to anyone other than himself on January 20th. Mr. Trump promised to march with them to accomplish the coup that would guarantee Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would not replace him. It was Humpty Dumpty and Custer’s last stand. By the way, he retreated to the safety of the White House to revel in the dangerous mission instead of keeping his word to join the march.
The painful images keep coming – new ones every day – the wonder of cell phone cameras recording the faces and horrific actions of mob violence in my country. I feel overwhelmed, depressed, shamed, sickened at the sights of the attack on our democracy displayed for the world to see.
President-Elect Biden and I grew up in the same generation, and from his words of hope and his insistence that what happened this week was not what America really was, I knew he and I were on the same page. The man carrying the Confederate flag in the rotunda of the Capitol, the man sitting with his legs propped up on a desk in Speaker Pelosi’s office, the men and women shattering glass, breaking historic relics, vandalizing individual offices, in general disrespecting the building that represented the legislative branch of our government – those people whose actions resulted in the deaths of five others – they weren’t the Americans Joe Biden and I remembered.
Nonetheless, we are the Americans who immigrated from faraway places, spread disease and killed the population living on this land in order to take the land from them. We are the Americans who used slavery to build on this land, to work the crops on the land, to be the backbone of our agrarian economy. White equaled might for us and when the colors of our nation became more colorful, we are the Americans who feared for our destiny.
When Joe Biden and I celebrated putting a man on the moon, we are the Americans who refused to guarantee health care for everyone. While he and I celebrated rugged individualism, bringing ourselves up by our bootstraps, we forgot some people didn’t have boots. More recently, we looked past the atrocities of Guantanamo Bay, brown children separated from their families living in cages at our borders, black children denied access to quality education which placed them at higher risk for quality jobs, poor people of all races who live today in food insecurity also known as hunger. Gun violence, police brutality toward people of color, denial of climate change, homelessness – the list goes on. We are all of these Americans.
But Mr. Trump and his white nationalist friends are losers. He lost the presidency, he lost the Senate, and he lost the House of Representatives for his Trumpty Party. His attempt at overthrowing our democracy failed. His white nationalist friends are scattering to the winds as quickly as the planes can fly them home. The reality show is over for now.
I believe Joe Biden and I can listen and learn to be better Americans. I think Kamala Harris will help raise the consciousness of what the next generation of Americans can be. That thought gives me hope for my granddaughter’s future.
Stay safe, stay sane and please stay tuned.