My Turn: As we turn the page, challenges ahead are clear

For the Monitor
Published: 1/13/2021 6:00:06 AM

From the moment Donald J. Trump descended his Trump Tower escalator in New York City to kick off his presidential campaign, we knew that he was a pretender to the highest office in the nation. There were many in those early days of his candidacy, including this observer, who scoffed at the idea that such a person could ever be elected. We were wrong, and we knew that soon enough.

Now, we are ready to put the Trump presidency in the rearview mirror if we can survive any more rash and dangerous acts in the final days of his four-year disastrous administration. It is for historians to rank his place in the 240-plus years of our democracy. We will not be around 50 or so years from now when that judgment is handed down by the Doris Kearns Goodwins of their time, but we cannot imagine his rank above last place, an embarrassment without peer who left no positive legacy whatsoever.

What Donald Trump left us is a deeply divided nation. His 73 million votes in the 2020 election prove that. While our growing divisions were on display well before Trump capitalized on them, he dangerously pitted us one against the other, and he spawned a new political movement called Trumpism. It was on ugly display at Charlottesville, and then this week at the U.S. Capitol. Ironically, Donald Trump has consistently shown that he has one and only one friend, and that is Donald Trump, and his incendiary backing of the violent insurrection at the Capitol may prove to be the beginning of the end and not the end of the beginning of something more menacing than we can imagine. Or least we can hope that to be the case.

Then we come to the President-elect Joe Biden. We watched and listened as he held a news conference, a real news conference, on Jan. 8, just 48 hours after the attack on the Capitol. We heard him firmly but calmly promise justice to those who broke the law in the attack, and we heard his affirm that it will be the U.S. Department of Justice that will investigate, make the charging decisions, and argue the cases. It will not be the president ordering the direction of these legal matters. We heard him lay out the priorities of the first 100 critical days of his presidency, foremost among them getting the COVID-19 vaccine distribution problems solved, encouraging or mandating mask-wearing, and providing meaningful economic assistance to those most severely impacted by the pandemic.

Above all, Biden’s overarching goal will be to bring the country together. That may be his most difficult challenge, and we are thankful that it ranks at the top. Divisions will not heal or may not even scab over in weeks or even years, but with a steady hand and good and experienced people focusing on problems and proposed solutions, those divisions can be challenged.

Finally, as we have watched and listened to Joe Biden, we are encouraged by the way he conducts himself at his meetings with reporters. He answers questions, accepts follow-ups, thanks the assembled media, and treats reporters with respect.

As we turn the pages of this time in history, may God and the Secret Service protect our president and vice president.

(Richard W. Osborne is retired and lives in Contoocook. He wrote and voiced editorials and commentaries for WKXL Radio for more than 30 years.)

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