He entered the White House with grand predictions of winning — so much winning that we’d be tired of winning when it was all over — and four years later we’re still waiting on that winning to start and the losing to stop.
The reality is that President Donald Trump is a loser. He came in a loser. He’ll leave a loser.
And hopefully soon, he’ll spend time in prison.
Regardless, though, he will forever be America’s worst president. Impeached twice for very real, very serious crimes against this country during a presidency that never — not for a single day — stopped being a three-ring circus of grift, preposterous lies and unabashed racism.
From the very first day, when former White House press secretary Sean Spicer ridiculously screamed that the president’s inauguration crowd was the largest in history, to the coddling of racists in Charlottesville, to the tossing of paper towels at hurricane victims, to physically shoving world leaders out of the way, to being caught red-handed paying off a porn star, to installing his unqualified children in top leadership positions, to gassing peaceful protestors, to inciting a murderous mob to attempt a coup, this has been a four-year run of chaos and dysfunction and perversion unprecedented in American history.
Maybe it was a sign from some higher power of America’s true strength — that the country could endure four consecutive years of its absolute worst people being in charge and still survive. Maybe it’s a bit of cosmic prodding to remind us to never let the norms be taken for granted — to never test the depths of American racism and rebelliousness.
Whatever it was, thank God it’s over.
But it has not ended soon enough for the 400,000-plus Americans who are now dead because of the thoroughly botched handling of a pandemic. Make no mistake, a great loss of life would likely have occurred no matter the president, but not this great.
We know for certain not this great because other countries — the ones whose leader didn’t try to “always downplay the virus” — managed to keep death tolls far below the United States’ numbers. They promised national testing and tracing programs, and then actually delivered them.
Remember when Trump promised free tests in Walmart parking lots? A massive tracing effort? Remember when he refused to put on a damn mask? Or when he promised it would just one day vanish?
In many ways, his handling of COVID-19 was a microcosm of his entire presidency — inept, delusional and deadly.
Trump was everything we feared he would be — a demagogue who coveted racial division and constant chaos, who never met a lie too outrageous, a dictator too murderous or an American institution too sacred for his debasing.
And then he was more awful than we imagined — implementing a policy of ripping scared children (babies in some cases) away from scared mothers at the border in an effort to deter people fleeing for their lives from coming to this shining beacon on the hill. Because to Trump, and his enablers and sycophants, America is only a beacon to white people. Everyone else is looking for an undeserved handout.
Days after Trump’s election in 2016, I wrote that he would soon begin the Alabamization of America — a process that would transform America’s government into the dysfunctional, corrupted mess that Alabama’s is. He exceeded my expectations and likely taught the crooks that run this state — since he had several with him — a few new tricks.
And hopefully, he taught the rest of us a valuable lesson: what we have here in this country, as messy and ugly and crazy as it can sometimes be, isn’t guaranteed, and it isn’t indestructible.
If a bumbling con man like Trump can bring us to the brink of insurrection, imagine what a serious fascist with intelligence, charisma and goals set higher than swindling the My Pillow guy could do to this place.
The Trump presidency certainly showed us how fragile it all is. And how the lies and shameless pandering by those who know better can have dire, ugly consequences.
So, maybe there is no real lesson from the Trump presidency — at least, not one beyond “Don’t elect unprepared racists to lead the free world.” And maybe the only things we’re supposed to do now are the things we should have been doing all along: never take voting or normalcy or intelligence or basic human decency for granted.
And thank God it’s over.