After years of chaos, extremism, and death, Americans have chosen to remove President Donald Trump from office. Despite the president’s attempt to sow discord in the late hours of the election, Joe Biden will replace him.
Four years ago, Trump’s win rearranged reality and hijacked our timeline, setting us on a darker path. He was extreme even as a candidate: denying science, praising dictators, promising to torture his enemies, and making politics more vulgar with every tweet. Millions of people around the world were shocked and alarmed on Election Day in 2016, but even the alarmists could not have predicted that the president-elect would someday be meaningfully responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of American lives and the needless prolonging of economic destruction.
The White House may become less vulgar and destructive on Inauguration Day, but the damage Trump has done to the government could take a long time to repair. Trump’s decision to disband a federal pandemic response team and cut funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention may become his most famous bureaucratic failure, but his administration has infested agencies across the government with unqualified political appointees. Trump infected every mechanism of government with politics where none was required. He even managed to make weather forecasting a partisan battlefield. We won’t know how much harm has been inflicted on our democracy until we root out the corruption and inspect the damage.
It has been too easy for one man to smother hope, trust, and the things that make life worth living. And it has been too easy to succumb to despair — to not seek out joy amid suffering or to feel guilty for doing so. But we’re still hopeful. The timeline has been restored. And while the hard work to repair it lies ahead, today there’s room for joy.