Legacy of Disgrace
It’s finally over.
How do we reflect on the last four years of what has been, inarguably, this nation’s most corrupt, scandalous and shameful presidency? What more can possibly be said of the man who will go down in history for all the wrong reasons?
We don’t know yet what the fallout will be for Donald Trump, his family and all those men and women who supported him, enabled him and lied for him. Much of that will be determined by the new Attorney General, as well as some state attorneys general and local prosecutors.
One thing is undeniable. Donald Trump, who took over for a man nicknamed, “No Drama Obama,” because he ran such a tight ship, has brought us nothing but turmoil. Jeb Bush warned us that Trump would be a chaos president, and more prescient words have never been uttered during a campaign.
Trump’s legacy of disgrace includes more than 400,000 dead Americans as a result of his disastrously incompetent handling of the COVID-19 crisis. It includes an unprecedented two impeachments. It may still include the first Senate conviction of a president in American history. And, most recently, it includes a poorly organized armed insurrection, incited by a cavalcade of lies, against both houses of Congress.
Prevailing wisdom has always maintained that no president could damage the nation all that much in just four years. Donald Trump has disproved that theory. He attacked our cherished institutions, and he destroyed our faith and trust in journalists, whose presence is required for a democracy to properly function. What remains to be seen is if Joe Biden, Kamala Harris and a Democratic-run Congress can repair the wreckage.
Donald Trump clearly never wanted to do the job of president. He just wanted to be the president. He wanted the title. He wanted the attention. He wanted the media exposure. He wanted the pomp and circumstance of it all. But he didn’t want to do any of the hard work.
That’s all well and good if you are going to hire competent people, and let them handle the important business of running the federal government. But that’s not what Trump did. Trump governed in the same manner in which he unsuccessfully ran his businesses. He brought in his woefully unqualified family and a slew of obsequious sycophants tasked with telling the emperor how much they enjoyed his shiny new clothes.
The president scoffed at our nation’s norms, big and small. Susan Collins famously said that Trump “learned his lesson,” after being acquitted in his first Senate impeachment trial, but the lesson he actually learned was that rules did not apply to him. In that regard, government life was pretty similar to everything Trump experienced in his business life and private life.
Republicans could have put a stop to this. In the beginning, some showed backbone. Collins, Lisa Murkowski and John McCain saved millions of Americans’ healthcare during Trump’s first year. But, gradually, the dissenters disappeared. McCain died, Jeff Flake didn’t run for reelection and Collins and Murkowski buckled.
For three years, through Trump’s repeated self-inflicted debacles, Americans shuttered at the thought of a real crisis gripping the nation. Then, it happened, one after another. A viral pandemic, economic collapse and civil unrest all struck the nation simultaneously, and Trump proved himself incapable of managing any of it.
By the final year of his presidency, Republicans’ blind fealty to Trump cost countless Americans their lives. Their politicization of mask-wearing, their insistence on prematurely reopening society, their encouragement of family gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas; all of it led to unnecessary and ongoing death and suffering.
Then there was the lying. So much lying. Non-stop lying. All culminating with the final, “Big Lie,” that Donald Trump somehow actually won the election, even though every reputable polling company in America correctly indicated beforehand that he would be a decisive loser.
As a result, thousands of self-proclaimed, “patriots,” stormed the United States Capitol in an act of open rebellion to try and reverse the result of a free-and-fair election and prevent a peaceful transfer of power, murdering a police officer in the process. With this failed coup attempt, Donald Trump became the first leader in U.S. history to attempt an overthrow of the federal government.
Four years ago, Donald Trump took over a healthy country with a high-flying economy. As he leaves office, our hospitals are overrun with the sick, millions are unemployed and food lines in major cities have hours-long waits. Meanwhile, the nation’s capital is under what is essentially a military occupation to protect Joe Biden from Trump’s irate and terribly misinformed supporters.
History will be the final judge of Donald Trump’s dark presidency, but there won’t be much debate.
His place at the bottom has been cemented.