Donald Trump didn’t need to be dragged out of the White House kicking and screaming after all.
Oh, no, now, on his way out, he didn’t go against type, didn’t disappoint, in failing to once again, and finally, disappoint us.
The 45th president, horse’s ass to his last hours, left Washington early Wednesday, becoming the first president since Richard Nixon to miss the inauguration of his successor.
Admit it. You didn’t have Trump tucking his tail between his legs and leaving on his own accord in the Zoom office pool.
As fun as it might have been for some to see him perp-walked out of the Oval Office, no, Trump isn’t there for Joe Biden’s big day.
You could forgive Nixon for missing Gerald Ford’s inauguration after resigning in disgrace.
Trump, like Nixon, was basically forced to flee D.C., walking out to the tarmac to Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” waving his private parts at us one last time, as he one-upped even Nixon, now facing a second impeachment trial.
So, first to two impeachments, first to incite an insurrection to try to overturn the results of an election …
And, it’s not like it was even close. Joe Biden won with 7 million more votes, a four and a half point margin, a 306-232 final tally in the Electoral College.
We’ve had contested elections months before a civil war, during the Depression, during world wars.
There was the one at the end of Reconstruction that almost certainly was stolen.
Our representative democracy survived all of them.
And it survived this one.
Some would say “barely.”
Trump, no doubt, wished he more levers to pull to remain in power despite the rather obvious will of the people expressed in November.
Turns out that our convoluted system dating back to a 1780s patchwork political compromise passed what may have been the stiffest stress test it will ever face.
Dating back to the first transition, from George Washington to John Adams, we’ve had a tradition of peaceful transition.
The Federalists may not have liked the Democratic-Republicans, who may not have liked the Whigs, and then when it morphed into the modern Democrats vs. Republicans, no, they agree to disagree, except when they don’t – but through it all, when the side in power lost, they handed over the keys, the gavel, became the loyal opposition.
It wasn’t until Trump began to signal last year that his fallback strategy to losing would be to delegitimize the foundation of our democratic system that we had to confront the uncomfortable: what happens if the losing side doesn’t want to participate in the transition of power?
What unfolded over the past couple of months was unsettling, because it wasn’t just the wannabe banana republic dictator seeking the counsel of portraits on the White House walls.
For too long, Republicans in Congress colluded with Trump – backing an effort by a state AG to overturn the election results in several states, then formally voting to reject election results in what has traditionally been a pro forma Electoral College certification.
Those votes came hours after the president encouraged supporters who had descended on the U.S. Capitol at his beck and call to let their voices be heard to Congress, and they followed through, breaching the Capitol, sending members of Congress, their staffs, Vice President Mike Pence, into hiding as they attacked Capitol Police, ransacked offices.
To reset: you had a president, you had a not insignificant number of members of Congress, you had literal insurrectionists.
And then you have today.
It’s not the transfer of power we’ve come to expect.
Trump, an eternally inadequate little man who failed his way up to the biggest job, couldn’t reduce himself to forcing a fake smile for two minutes, like Barack Obama did, like George W. Bush did, like Bill Clinton and Al Gore did.
So be it.
Four years ago, we weren’t sure.
The past year, particularly, wow.
Today might be the most important inauguration day since the first one, back in 1789.
It’s a credit to those folks that the Frankenstein creation that got us to that day worked to get us to this one.
The states certified their elections, Congress, eventually, resoundingly, followed suit.
The military, thankfully, never a factor in any of this.
The system … worked.
Barely, sure, but it worked.
Story by Chris Graham