With Biden elected, I am, like much of America, waking up from being in an abusive relationship, writes Rebekah Crawford. Sadly, millions of Americans did not mind Trump's racism, corruption and abuse of power.
Monday 16 November 2020
When I finally turned off the television on US election night, which had become Wednesday morning, my heart was broken. I went to bed believing Trump had won. Three hours later and the results looked just as bleak as they had been when I went to bed. I spent most of that Wednesday in a semi-catatonic state, immobilised by concern for the future of my homeland.
Finally, I took my daughter out for a bike ride. The sun was shining, the day was glorious, and I tried to remind myself that my life in Europe would continue even if Trump stayed president.
When I got home at 5:30pm, I didn't have the heart or the courage to check the news. My husband walked in 15 minutes later and asked me if I'd heard.
“It looks like Biden just might win,” he said.
I flipped on CNN and spent the next three days planted in front of it. I fell in love with John King and his Magic Board, how calm and reassuring he was, keeping us steady, relying on the numbers, never letting emotions get in the way of the maths. The following Saturday, they called the election and announced the winner – Joe Biden.
My husband came home an hour later with a bottle of champagne and we celebrated, just the two of us, even though my first instinct was to call every American I know in Brussels and invite them over for a party. I longed to be dancing in the streets of Los Angeles, my home town, as so many of my friends were doing. I had to content myself with the twitter posts and videos of the celebration and it occurred to me: We have been liberated.
The first effect of Joe Biden becoming our President-elect has been a total disconnection from everything Trump does and says. I have spent the last four years waking up each morning and holding my breath as I checked my phone, my first thought being: what new horror awaits us?
As I scroll through the headlines, I discovered, every single day, a new horror. And with each new horror, new lie, new policy, new attack on our democracy, my heartbeat has sped up, my blood pressure has skyrocketed, and a cascade of stress hormones have flooded my system. That is how I have lived every single day since Trump became president.
With Biden elected, I have felt joy when opening my phone or merely a mild state of curiosity. I glance at the stupid lies Trump is still spewing and I feel nothing. My body is not reacting in its habitual fight or flight mode that I've been living in these last four years. His words no longer affect me and as such, they are quickly receding into the distance. Very soon, he will be all but irrelevant to me.
Like much of America, I'm waking up from being in an abusive relationship and boy is it a relief. But many more Americans than I ever would have imagined did not experience the visceral stress upon waking each morning that I did.
They did not mind Trump's baseless claims and 20,000+ lies. His racism and his eschewing of facts and science didn't bother them either. That he didn't pay taxes or that he cheated on his wife and has been accused, multiple times, of sexual assault – not an issue. His downright nastiness and bullying – something they could live with. His inability to string a sentence together or his need to rely purely on superlatives to describe just about everything was not an affront to their ears.
His blatant disregard for democracy and decency and his pure, unadulterated narcissism did not stop them from voting for him in even larger numbers than in 2016. They saw Trump, they understood who he was and how little he stood for and still they voted for him again.
The Republican party won big in 2020, a lot bigger than we were expecting. Creepy old senators like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham kept their seats. Susan Collins in Maine kept her seat. Democrats lost the governorship in Montana. We lost seats in the House.
We were hoping for a Blue Wave. We were expecting a Blue Wave. We did not get it. But we did get a new president. Regardless of how well the GOP did in the 2020 election, we cannot discount the fact that Trump himself did lost.
As we pick up the pieces from this election and examine our battle wounds heading into Joe Biden's presidency, we must ask why, in spite of record turnout, Democrats did so poorly. We will have to figure out a way to reach the Trump voters or at least try to understand them a little bit.
But until then, I am going to gloat a little bit. I am going to feel pleasure at how painful this loss must be for Trump and his family of grifters. I am going to relish the fact that he will be a one-term president and that his ugly brand of politics did not, in this election, win. And I'm going to breathe easily again.