Roughly half of our country is unhappy with the outcome of the presidential election. And in spite of the false narrative advanced by President Donald J. Trump and his most ardent followers, the page has been turned. We have a new, lawfully elected president. Joseph R. Biden Jr., elected fair and square, was inaugurated on Jan. 20 at noon.
Not all were happy. But it was a loss. The popular vote was 51.3 percent to 46.8 percent, 81,283,485 for Biden to 74,223,744 for Trump; Electoral College votes were 306 to 232.
Trump challenged until the end. More than 60 court cases charging voter fraud were dismissed for lack of evidence, many by judges appointed by Trump. Trump’s desperate, embarrassing and possibly illegal call to the Georgia Secretary of State, begging for 11,780 more votes, illustrated the depths to which he’d grovel.
On Jan. 6, after being urged on by President Trump, the mob of thousands stormed the Capitol, police were beaten, one was murdered. Several were hospitalized. Glass was shattered, doors were broken down, blood was spilled.
Legislators on both sides of the aisle feared for their lives. Members of Congress were secured in lockdown while thugs roamed through those hallowed halls, yelling, “Hang Mike Pence!” Elected officials and staffers hid behind office doors barricaded against insurrectionists, many of whom were armed with pipes, sticks and guns, carrying zip ties, apparently for taking prisoners. A guillotine and a noose were placed on Capitol grounds.
Our foundations have been shaken – trauma and destruction and loss of life – even as the unruly efforts have been thwarted. What has been achieved instead is that Donald J. Trump has exposed his true vile character of selfishness. Even to his most ardent followers in Congress, his narcissist personality that cannot accept any loss – even in the face of facts and numbers – was exposed. He believed in his own magical way of thinking that if he said that the election was stolen, and said it enough, it would become truth. But truth is truth, and numbers are numbers.
As the reality of the loss closed in on him, Trump chose to urge his supporters to violence, encouraging them to come to Washington, D.C., on Dec. 12 to protest with false claims of a stolen election. There were stabbings and arrests that night prior to the submission of the electoral ballots. The recruitment effort for that demonstration included rolling a bus through America. I happened to see it in Morehead City in a parking lot on Arendell Street, Trump’s smiling face hugely emblazoned on the side, encouraging the Dec. 12 protest. When that demonstration did not overturn the election, his focus turned to Jan. 6, the date of the certification of the electoral ballots.
On the morning of Jan. 6, Trump incited the crowd; and the attack, an attempted coup, followed.
How can we recover as a nation based on freedom, law and order and free elections from such a shock?
We must accept that those who violate the law – including former President Trump – will be tried and punished in courts of law. The impeachment of Trump for inciting an insurrection, approved by the House, is now with the Senate. We can leave the outcome to the lawmakers as we rebuild and unify.
And we must move on. President Biden has been sworn in. The new Administration will now address the COVID-19 vaccine project, the relief to the American people in order to restore the economy and climate change … as we all attempt to heal our relationships with family, friends and, finally, our country.
The awe-inspiring inaugural poem by Amanda Gorman, “The Hill We Climb,” should guide us. It calls us to be the light in this shade, a nation that isn’t broken but bruised, bruised but whole. To close the divide so that we can “lay down our arms and reach out our arms to one another,” and “never again sow division … History has its eyes on us … let love become our legacy. Our inaction and inertia will be the inheritance of the next generation.”
She inspires us to “rebuild, reconcile and recover, emerge battered and beautiful.” This requires the courage to calmly listen to opposing views and seek common goals together. “For there is always light, if only we are brave enough to see it – if only we are brave enough to be it.”
Let’s follow Amanda Gorman’s inspiration to unify, rather than divide.
Ann vonHoorn of Cape Carteret is a Tideland News contributor.