“The Times They Are A-Changin’”
Bob Dylan, 1964
BY RICHARD C. GROSS
Exit a deranged, vindictive, immature president who nearly destroyed the ideals, hopes and future of a free and diverse people burdened with his chaos, lies, racism, anger and hate and his twisted belief that their country revolved around him.
Enter an experienced adult with a presidential presence who inspires with his outlines for progress in a dawn promising the pursuit happiness for a people craving rescue from disease, hunger, financial despair and a sense of hopelessness, disappointed their country failed them.
More than 400,000 Americans have died of COVID-19 and 24 million have contracted the disease.
The “American carnage” wrought by the fantasies of Donald Trump culminated with a calamitous assault on a hallowed monument to democracy. Thousands of his followers resorted to unbridled, unnecessary violence. It was all on behalf of a madman lying about a rigged election whose legacy of cruelty and insurrection will forever scar our history.
“The mob was fed lies,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged on the Senate floor Tuesday. He referred to the unprecedented Capitol invasion by Americans, some who desecrated the Greek style edifice with the Confederate flag.
“They were provoked by the president and other powerful people,” McConnell said.
A swan song? A signal he will vote to convict Trump for his impeachment of “incitement of insurrection?”
Where was the Kentucky Republican all of these four years when he and his fellow party members allowed Trump to do what he wanted? They swallowed his repeated mendacity, his encroaching dictatorship and his failure to lead in combatting a disease that has crippled the world.
How long the savage ugliness of Trumpism will survive as change for the good takes hold with the leadership of President Joe Biden and his team of political and policy experts is a question for astrologers.
“We have come to live in a society based on insults, on lies and on things that just aren’t true,” posted retired Gen. Colin Powell on Facebook. He is a former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “It creates an environment where deranged people feel empowered.”
More than 74 million people voted for Trump. Much depends whether their presumed future strength at the polls will keep in power the frightened Republican coddlers of the worst president in American history. Or will Trumpism diminish under the weight of Biden’s wide-ranging designs to wipe away a trail of tears shed from ocean to ocean?
Fully 147 Republicans, eight of them senators, voted against certifying Biden’s election. We know why. For self above country. For 2024.
Biden’s applauded goals, beginning with extensive plans to control the pandemic immediately, will depend in large part on the willingness of Republicans to cooperate with Democrats who control Congress and the White House for the first time since 2009. The objective is to help restore the country to its pre-Trump position as a world leader.
The malarky artist — as Biden would put it — opened his race for the presidency in 2015 by insulting Mexicans as “rapists and murderers.” Biden will deliver a comeuppance on his first day Wednesday to counter Trump’s mean, radical, racist actions on immigration that were intended to satisfy the “very fine people” who follow him blindly.
In what couldn’t be a more welcome contrast, the new president reportedly will send legislation to Congress on Inauguration Day to provide an eight-year path to citizenship for immigrants without legal status. It proposes to expand refugee admissions and rely on technology instead of more wall to guard the southern border.
What a decent, terrific way for Biden to celebrate his inauguration and years-long desire for the presidency.
In addition, the Dreamers — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — and migrants from disaster-wounded countries who are in the temporary protected status program could apply immediately for green cards.
Separately, in a nod to Native Americans besieged with attempts to disrupt their sacred ancestral lands, Biden reportedly plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline. It is designed to move oil from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico. The Natives long have protested the intrusive pipeline.
Those who are not happy with the proposed 180-degree change from the era of ignorance, corruption and golf — those who have been crying for freedom from masks and from their perceived notion based on a Big Lie that Biden’s presidency is illegitimate — are free to leave the country.
“Biden’s main task is going to need to be to reestablish the symbol of the White House to the world as a place of integrity and good governance,” presidential historian Douglas Brinkley told the Associated Press. “Because right now everything is in disarray.”
It sure is.
The contrast between Trump and Biden will be stark once a sense of normal operations returns to the White House. Look for masks there. No more governing by hiring and firing and whimsical policy decisions by tweet.
No more nuttiness from Rudy Giuliani. Or talk by Steve Bannon of “destruction of the administrative state,” which has been stripped enough of experienced career personnel.
No more anti-immigrant Stephen Miller, anti-public school Betsy DeVos, useless Mike Pompeo, no more wholesale incompetence by a know-nothing politically appointed staff of presidential loyalists.
And the lights again will go on in the media briefing room.
Trump never took seriously President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address. He never asked what he could do for his country. He asked only what his country could do for him.
Richard C. Gross, a correspondent, bureau chief and foreign editor of United Press International, retired as the opinion page editor of The Baltimore Sun.