Donald John Trump, the 45th president of the United States will walk out of the White House and board Marine One for the last time as president today, Wednesday January 20, 2021, leaving behind a legacy of chaos and a bitterly divided nation at war with itself. Trump will be the first president in modern history to boycott his successor’s inauguration as he continues to revel in denial about his loss, claiming without any credible evidence that the election President-elect, Joe Biden fairly won was stolen from him.
Four years after standing on stage at his own inauguration and painting a dire picture of “American carnage,” Trump departs the office twice impeached, with millions out of work and over 400,000 dead from the coronavirus.
Under his watch, the Republican Party he co-opted lost the presidency and both houses of Congress. He will be forever remembered for the final major act of his presidency: inciting an insurrection at the Capitol that left five dead, and horrified the nation. For four years, Trump exploited America’s simmering racial tensions, fusing visceral identity politics with an economic populism and nationalist overtones that espoused white supremacy with his ubiquitous campaign slogan “Make America Great Again.” Trump was an international embarrassment; an unbelievable shame to America that demands no perfunctory exaggeration. The global community can now heave a sigh of relief that this American nightmare is finally over.
Still, Trump has refused to participate in any of the symbolic passing-of-the-torch traditions surrounding the peaceful transition of power. By the time Biden is sworn in, Trump will already have landed at his private Mar-a-Lago club in West Palm Beach, Florida, to face an uncertain future; but not before giving himself a grand military sendoff, complete with a red carpet, military band and 21-gun salute. Guests have been invited, but it is unclear how many will attend. Even Vice President Mike Pence plans to skip the event, citing logistical challenges of getting from Joint Base Andrews to the inauguration ceremony. The nation’s capital, Washington has been transformed into a security fortress, with thousands of National Guard troops deployed, amid fencing and checkpoints to stave off possible violence.
Trump’s experience, temperament and character made him horribly unfit to be president of a nation the world looks to for leadership; as well as commander-in-chief of the world’s most powerful armed forces and in charge of America’s nuclear arsenal. He ran a fact-free administration with scant regard for the truth; violated established norms of decorum and took outlandish actions like the cruel separation of migrant kids from their parents that raised fundamental questions of the character of America as a nation of immigrants. His signature campaign promise to build a wall at the southern border to keep out Mexican immigrants; which Mexico will pay for never materialized, but he had no qualms to lie that the wall was being built. The media was his favorite punching bag; berating news organizations as dishonest and fake news, calling the media as “the enemy of the people.”
His refusal to release his tax returns, and revelations that he paid a paltry $750 in federal income taxes for years, opened a rare window into his crooked financial dealings and dozens of entanglements; many in foreign countries, raising questions about potential conflicts of interest. A serial philanderer and sex predator, presently in his third marriage, Trump boasted, in a 2005 video, about using his public profile to grope and sexually assault women; and then claimed it was locker room banter. Above all, Trump was a pathological liar; he lied so much and so frequently that he earned the dubious distinction as the most lying president ever to sit in the oval office. All this alone should have stopped any decent person from casting a vote, if they had one, for a bully and egomaniac, whose character and temperament, including his remarkably scandalous veneration of women as sexual objects became a blight on the toga of the oval office as a preeminent place for moral leadership.
Trump is a bigot, racist and xenophobe, who ran a dog whistle white supremacists administration with an unvarnished message to white Americans who felt the promise of the American dream had eluded their grasp because of globalization and immigration. For four years, he was emphatic in “taking our country back” and “making America great again”, which euphemistically meant: “making America white again.” Trump presented himself as the embodiment of the success and grandeur that many white voters felt was missing from their own lives and from America itself. He convinced white Americans that people who don’t look, dress, eat, or pray like them want to take over their country. It was “us” versus “them” and so we must stop “them” else “we wouldn’t have a country anymore.” Americans finally had enough and voted Trump out in 2020.
Trump had been expected to remain his party’s de facto leader, wielding enormous power as a kingmaker as he mulled a 2024 presidential run. But all that changed after Trump’s supporters violently stormed the Capitol, hunting for lawmakers who refused to go along with his unconstitutional efforts to overturn the results of a democratic election. Trump will retire to Florida to chart a political future that looks very different now than just two weeks ago. In his farewell video, he pledged to his supporters that “the movement we started is only just beginning.”
Before the Capitol riot, Trump spent all his time sinking deeper and deeper into conspiracy theories, and believes his reelection victory was stolen. He continues to lash out both publicly and privately at Republicans for their perceived disloyalty and has threatened to spend the coming years backing primary challenges against those on his enemies’ list who he feels betrayed him. Trump retains his grip on the Republican base, with the support of millions of loyal voters, along with allies still helming the Republican National Committee and many state party organizations. Some expect him to eventually turn completely on the Republican Party, perhaps a run as a third-party candidate as an act of revenge.
For all the chaos and drama and bending the world to his will, Trump ended his term as he began it: largely alone; angry, embarrassed and consumed by rage and grievance. He is more powerless than ever, shunned by so many in his party, impeached twice, denied the Twitter and social media bullhorn he had used as his weapon of choice and even facing the prospect that, if convicted in his second Senate impeachment trial, he could be barred from seeking any public office.
Trump will skip Biden’s inauguration becoming the first president to do so since Andrew Johnson in 1869. The tradition of a president attending his successor’s inauguration began with George Washington and projects to the country and the world that symbol of the majesty of American democracy called the peaceful transfer of power. Washington DC, the city Trump leaves behind will not miss him. The city overwhelmingly voted for Biden, with 93% of the vote. Trump got just 5.4%. Biden will likely focus on how to make good on the theme of his inauguration: “America United” but the challenge before him is daunting. As Americans wake up from their nightmare, people should not forget that it took the last Democratic president eight years to clean the mess left by the last Republican president before Trump. Fixing what Trump has broken in four years might take a little longer!
Source: Editorial by Huhuonline.