If you have experienced a tornado, hurricane, or a crippling snowstorm, you know what it’s like the following day. You wake up and look to the skies that only hours earlier were dark, ominous, and dangerous. The morning sky is usually a brilliant blue, barren of clouds; the radiant sun shining a hopeful brightness.
Then, you look down and around you, and see the aftermath of the storm’s devastation: unspeakable destruction, trees and objects uprooted from their rightful place, homes and buildings torn asunder or snowed in, roofs ripped off or sunken in, electric wires dangling, the lifeblood of power to the community choked, neighbors and strangers’ eyes scanning the disorder with mouths gaping. Where to start to pick up the pieces? How to clear all the ruin? How to rebuild? How to build back better?
President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris. Let me stop here for a second. How wonderful does that sound? Let’s repeat it. President-elect Joe Biden’s and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris's campaign was branded “Building Back Better.” Perhaps Biden's campaign strategists and Biden himself saw this metaphorical scenario of a storm aftermath as a harbinger to what would happen if he won. How will we build back better? And how will he make our days sunnier?
First, we have to interrupt this sun-kissed day with some thick cloud cover. We are a very, very, very divided country — more than we thought, much more than we ever realized, and sadly, unprepared to be united. Trump supporters are out there, and they are angry. They believe, wrongly, that Trump hears their voices, despite all the evidence to the contrary. They don’t care that he’s a racist, misogynist, and habitual liar. They have been brainwashed to either believe otherwise or believe what he says, and if nearly 48 percent of the electorate is OK with that type of behavior, then that is unnerving.
And Trump is not done poking the hornet’s nest that is his woefully unreasonable, uncompromising, and uncompassionate base, so the next few months are going to be very precarious. President Joe Biden is unlikely to change their minds — as if he doesn’t have enough to worry about.
When questioned by The New York Times’ Frank Bruni about what’s in front of Biden, former Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill said, “It’s staggering … his to-do list is just … gross.” Biden will step into a demolished Oval Office on January 20, 2021. Its desecration has no bounds, not just from the sheer pounding the office of the presidency took during the last four years, but from how that office fell from being the bulwark of democracy, a safe haven for our allies, and a place of restitution for those underprivileged. The office figuratively and literally allowed the raging gale of COVID-19 droplets to drip unabated.
From the pandemic to the republic, so many of us have lost hope during the violent storm that was Trump. We became homeless in a country overcome by a constant rain of lies, inequality, indecency, and irresponsibility. We now have a new, hopeful leader — a clearing wind who emboldens the daylight of truth, equality, decency, and accountability. We have a bright home in America again.
We can return to being proud of our country, so for the purposes of this column, at least for this moment, let’s look up at a clear blue, sun-soaked sky of hope, and imagine we are safe from twister tweets, racist riptides, and nasty nor’easters.
Let us bask in the gloriousness of pride. We now have a man in the White House who led the way for same-sex marriage, instead of trying to sabotage it. The fog of Trump’s threats to LGBTQ+ equality, trans rights and marriage rights will be replaced by the resplendency of a rainbow presidency. The billowing of a blowhard substituted by the gentleness of a Biden breeze. We still face a hostile court, and hostile forces, but Biden will do his best to protect us, not diminish us.
For people of color, they can begin to finally — hopefully — have a leader of the country address the constant flurry of systematic racism in our government and society. They were ruthlessly snowed in, whipped up by overt racist talk by a president of the United States. Unimaginable. What a bone-crunching cold they endured, engulfed for four years in a white-out blizzard. They now have a president who can help plow away the ugly stain of bigotry.
Women have been pelleted by a verifiable hail storm of nastiness. Their place in society, the suburbs, and their seat at the table are all dented, marked and crushed by a chauvinist-in-chief. His replacement, a man who chose a Black woman as his running mate, and who will ensure women have their rightful places, treated not as housewives but as House members, corporate CEOs, senators, entrepreneurs, and quite possibly our next president.
Finally, there is the roaring untamed fire of COVID-19, whose embers and smoke spread without any fire captain to contain the smoldering sickness. Trump, in his entire life, has spurred any concern for anyone who was sick. They are weak. They are losers. What chance did we ever have of surviving this pandemic with Trump, whose only familiarity with fire was a catchphrase?
Joe Biden has personally dealt with sickness, suffering, and death. While Trump’s scorched-earth policy of herd immunity was allowed to burn, it can now be snuffed out by a man who has heard humanities cry for help. Biden will be able to see and save the trees through the forest of COVID-19.
Like everything else, the weather is temporary, but let’s savor this scenic moment. We’ve endured a monstrous period of an unsteady weather pattern. How many times did we see bleakness and think the rain of insults and ignorance would never stop? From building walls, blood coming out of wherever, to good people on both sides, to stand back and stand by, to COVID, COVID, COVID.
Look back and bear witness to what we have endured. No meteorologist on earth would have ever predicted the catastrophe of the tsunami of Trump. We were left stranded in a downpour, drenched and chilled, without a roof over our head and an umbrella in our hand and lacking warmness in our hearts.
We have survived, and now we have the opportunity to dry off from Trump’s incessant saturation. Who would have thought, only 10 months ago, that Joe Biden would be the one to rescue us? His life is filled with heartache and triumphs, and now he's called upon to comfort a nation whose ego has been badly bruised, whose citizens are sick and getting sicker, whose morale has been beaten down, and whose citizen's eyes, ears, and minds are in desperate need of trust, and the truth. If Donald Trump’s Twitter was an allegory for a category five hurricane, Joe Biden’s aviators are the perfect accessory for a nation in desperate need of sunshine.
John Casey is the editor at large for The Advocate.