The end of the Trump administration unfolded on a Saturday morning. It was that last dump of votes from Pennsylvania that made his re-election a statistical impossibility. The president was, as he usually is, at his golf course when it happened. The whole thing was kind of surreal, and it felt like it was happening in slow motion, like falling off a horse or getting into a car accident.
I knew a Biden victory was coming. We all did. The math made a Trump win almost impossible. The writing was on the wall. Even Rupert Murdoch had admitted it was over. He had used the cover of the New York Post to send that message to his figurehead—the headline read “Ready, Set, Joe,” accompanied by a photo of a cheerful Joe Biden.
And if that wasn’t enough, Laura Ingraham had used her television program to very gingerly tell Trump it was over. But until the race was called, I had this nagging feeling like something could still go wrong, like 2016 could theoretically still happen again. I worried that networks wouldn’t call it, or Trump would cheat, or something would go horribly wrong maybe involving the Supreme Court or something. It was largely an anxiety and not a real concrete idea, but it still weighed on me.
And Donald Trump had been more than a president. He had been an occupying force in all our minds. So much of my life has been taken up by Trump, his corruption, his kids, his tweets. I don’t know how many pieces I’ve written about the Trump grift, about the kleptocracy, about the misogyny, about the racism, about the stupidity, about the kids in the cages who weren’t given soap. My America had become this cruel dystopia that I had read about in books, and I had been powerless to do a thing about it.
The problem with electing an autocrat who happens also to be a reality television host is that he wants to be the star of the American government and wants to be a star of all our lives. Trump has sucked up all the oxygen for the last four years. He’s been a movie star and dictator and a cult leader and a hideous distraction from our normal lives.
In the last four years we’ve been hostages in the worst reality television show ever. Now that show had been canceled. We knew it would be on Wednesday morning, but the finality, the moment it was called, that was profound and strange and amazing. Like America broke up with its abusive boyfriend.
When the race was called, when that last dump of votes came in, I could feel myself exhale for the first time in four years. I didn’t cry because I’m not a crier, but I could hear people in the streets cheering. I live in a very quiet, somewhat conservative neighborhood in Manhattan across the street from one of Trump’s biggest donors.
Let me just add that I often walk my three dogs so they pee on the potted plants outside of his enormous townhouse. But even my neighborhood was relieved; even my neighborhood felt our long national nightmare was over.
The moment the words “presumptive nominee” flashed on screen I felt this amazing feeling, like for the first time in a long time things were not getting worse, things might even some day get better. This year 2020 has absolutely sucked. The last year has been a sea of death and grayness punctuated by the death of feminist icon RBG.
I am not stupid. I know the end of the Trump administration isn’t the end of Trumpism, nor is it the end of QAnon. We are still a country in crisis, we are still a nation under a pandemic. But science and reason will be welcomed back into the White House. The president’s kids will no longer get to practice government on the taxpayer’s dime. A Black woman is going to replace a white misogynist as vice president. We won’t have to worry about declarations of war on Twitter.
Will everything be perfect now? Obviously not—we’re looking down the barrel of a divided government, half the country needs to be deprogramed, and places like Newsmax still refuse to call the election for Biden. Breitbart is still claiming foul, the president’s sons are still whining, Rudy is still Rudying, but the Trump administration now has an end date, January 20, 2021. We are a country with a long way to go, but we have a chance now, and that’s why that sound coming from the streets is cheering.