We could also use an “erase” button.
America gets a fresh start
After he lost his election to Ronald Reagan in a landslide back in November of 1980, President Jimmy Carter remarked…
After he lost his election to Ronald Reagan in a landslide back in November of 1980, President Jimmy Carter remarked that in some ways it would have been less painful had he lost back in 1976 to Gerald Ford since all it would have meant was that the people liked the other guy better. However losing a reelection campaign after being the president for four years meant that the people gave you a chance and then after getting to know you, they rejected you. As anybody knows who’s ever been rejected, it’s not nearly as enjoyable as it sounds. Right now, for most likely the first time in his star-crossed life, Donald Trump is facing the bitter sting of rejection and you bet it most assuredly hurts, bigly. A nation has said, thanks, but no thanks, and if we’ve learned anything about the 45th president, we know that this rejection feels particularly personal, since everything in Donald Trump’s life is first and foremost about Donald Trump.
Despite dipping into his well worn “Felix the Cat” bag of tricks which have always included frivolous lawsuits, threats, smear tactics, exaggerations, and lies, lies, lies, nothing the “Orange Menace” or his legal team of stooges and one leaky Giuliani could cook up would effectively change anything. With his lies and his humiliation now laid to bare in front of a torn and exhausted nation, there was nothing left for this bully and consummate con-man to do but slink away without even as much as taking responsibility for the insurrection that took place at our glorious Capital building, or having the common decency or respect for our traditions and form of government to congratulate the legitimately elected president or even have the “Countess Dracula” extend a hand to DOCTOR Jill Biden, the incoming First Lady. Who would have thought that a guy who preached “birtherism” and thinks eating Taco Bell makes up for the fact that he called Mexicans, “rapists,” wouldn’t show any class as he slithered away from the White House for the last time?
The final, lonely walk of shame, and in the same clothes he arrived in. Yuck! (Getty Images)
While much has been made of the fact that nearly 75 million people voted for this most flawed of human beings, a whopping 81 million Americans chose former Vice President Joe Biden to lead the nation out of this four year marathon of mania. While I don’t want to get into any kind of debate over the mathematics of 81 million being more than 75 million with a man as austere and stable as the “My Pillow Guy,” I feel confident in stating that Joe Biden won this one going away. Eventually, despite the dishonesty that Trump peddled to the very fine people that make up the extreme fringes of “MAGA Nation,” and despite having to call out the National Guard (Minus those who apparently have strong ties and sympathy for the white supremacist movement that has strangely surged during Trump’s presidency), and despite the efforts of scuzzy opportunists such as Ted “My wife is ugly and my Dad killed JFK” Cruz, and Josh “The Traitor” Hawley, an inauguration was scheduled, and an inauguration took place, as it should have.
The inauguration of an American president is really the ultimate showcase of our democratic-republic. It is a scene that all Americans should revel in. As a social studies teacher, I believe it is an opportunity to show America at its best to our still impressionable youth. That’s why I feel that one of the most satisfying things I’ve gotten to do as a social studies teacher for the past 31 years is show the inauguration to my students at Rensselaer High School. This would have marked my fourth and final time that I would be sharing this historical day since unless something bizarre takes place in the next few weeks, this year will mark my final one as a full-time teacher. Unfortunately, this year’s festivities was interrupted like pretty much everything else in our lives over the past year, by COVID-19. As such, I was forced to watch the inauguration all by my lonesome, due to the fact that our 9–12th grade students are home for the week for due to the fact that many of our teachers are currently in quarantine.
I don’t want to sound like a worry wart, but I thought I heard Biden’s Press Secretary come out afterward and say, “This was the largest group of America flags to witness an inauguration, period!” (New York Times)
The first inauguration I got to share with my students was back in 2009 when Barack Obama was sworn in as our 44th president. Students were allowed to bring their lunches to any teacher’s classroom where the inauguration ceremony was being aired and have their lunch while watching history unfold. After all, this was the first African-American president to have been elected to the highest office in the land, and as some of you may have conveniently forgotten, at the time we were in two losing wars, as well as suffering from the worst economic crisis the since the Great Depression, and we as a nation desperately needed a fresh start. In one of the most moving scenes I have ever enjoyed as an educator, I was riveted by the looks on the faces of some of my African-American students who beamed with pride and possibility as they watched an event that very few people up to that time believed they would witness in their lifetime, the inauguration of an African-American president. I had been asked for many years by my students before this if I thought we’d see an African-American president first or would our nation elect a female candidate. I always stated with confidence that I was sure we’d see a women in the White House serving as Chief Executive before a person of color. Now you see why I don’t bet on sports.
Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump ascends to the presidency and it’s a very different scene unfolding in front of me as the inauguration is broadcast into my classroom. This time, the students were less enthralled by the spectacle on the television before them. Instead there were groans and gasps and even a couple of female students in tears. I’m not sure exactly why they became so upset, but it may have been the part where Trump labeled that particular time in history as “American Carnage.” In case you’re thinking that these students were imbibing in histrionics, a man with well-established conservative bonafides, former president George W. Bush himself would turn to a despondent Michelle Obama and comment after hearing Trump’s speech, “Well, that was some weird $hit.” Incredibly, I was cast into the role of Trump “defender,” as I tried to reassure these students that everything would be fine, and that every president deserves a chance. While I wasn’t enthralled by Trump’s victory on election night back in 2016 to say the least, I did get a kick out of a couple of my male students coming to school the day after Trump was elected wearing their Trump paraphernalia. They proceeded to celebrate in my personal space, all in good fun. If I played any role in their enthusiasm for politics, then I considered that a great victory.
Whether Barack Obama was a good, bad, or mediocre president will always be subject to debate. I defy anybody though who saw what I saw in the eyes of my students’ of color in 2009 in my classroom to tell me that this wasn’t one of the greatest moments in American history. Donald Trump’s endless assault on Obama’s status as to whether he was born in this country, and his attempts as president to undo all of Obama’s accomplishments tells you everything you would ever need to know about the outgoing president. (Commons.wikimedia.org)
Inauguration 2021 was a bizarre scene to say the least. There were flags on the National Mall where people should have been. Everyone wore a mask, and the people who were there were socially distanced. The Capital, so magnificent in the winter sun of Washington, D.C., still bore the scars from the traitorous terrorists who were led to believe by a president incapable of telling the truth or facing it, that they could somehow reverse what the American people had willed. Trump in classic Trumpian style chose not to attend the inauguration of Joe Biden, making him the first president since that Mount Rushmore wannabe and fellow impeached disgrace, Andrew Johnson, chose to skip the proceedings back in 1869. Like Johnson, history will most likely not be kind to the former game show host turned tyrant.
I couldn’t help but be amused by a social media post that hailed Trump’s accomplishments and the status of the United States and the world as Trump exited the presidency. The post claimed that they wanted people to know about Trump’s success so we could compare it to where we’re going to be four years from now. Besides the fact that many of the statistics were cherry picked as well as misleading, the post seemed to have forgotten to mention Trump’s greatest historical and statistical accomplishment; 400,000 people dead from COVID-19, most of them while Trump was lying about the seriousness of the disease.
Meanwhile, Joe Biden inherits this mess, and he’s got his work cut out for him for sure. His speech was warm, endearing, and filled with cautious optimism amidst calls for unity. The fact that Mitch McConnell was there, and Senator Roy Blunt (R,C) of Missouri hosted the inauguration was a nice gesture and he deserves credit for this bipartisan act of good will. It’s a good start, now for the hard part.