Yes, we won. On Friday, November 7th, I knew the minute it finally happened when I heard my whole neighborhood erupt with cheering like we used to do for the healthcare workers. Pennsylvania, that I’d thought would take the weekend to finish ballot counting, had come through.
Horns honked. I looked outside from the shade of my COVID isolation to see people in their backyards and on the sidewalks stretching their arms heavenward and leaping for the sky in that day’s brilliant sunshine. It went on and on. Like me, I could hear my neighbors caught in an endless loop of manic laughter, uncontrollable screeching, and sobbing with gratitude.
But we haven’t won. Not really. Our Achilles heel? Forgetting…already…the last presidential election. On Tuesday, November 8, 2016, any Democrat with half a brain realized the extraordinary extent of our self-delusion when the butt of our jokes was elected President in the largest Electoral College landslide for any Republican in 28 years.
Mere months before, abroad, I’d repeatedly assured people on the other side of the Atlantic that, no matter how crazy my country could be, there was no way we were going to elect Donald Trump. Just a week before the 2016 election, I’d read an almost pitying account in a major, respected magazine of the plight of Trump supporters certain to face a very difficult and challenging attempt at readjustment as soon as Hillary Clinton was elected President. My own, pompous, self-righteous, patronizing self-delusion dated back further than that: On Tuesday, November 4, 2008, when the extraordinarily elegant and intelligent Barack Obama was elected President, I started eight years of chanting that my often-awkward-and-childlike country had, finally, grown up and attained its adulthood.
Why this persistent, perennial, dangerous Democratic delusion? Because we refuse to accept that our opposition has any validity whatsoever. Blinded by our conviction that we can simply write Trump and his supporters off as childish, misguided liars with no reputable facts to back a single of their claims, we relegate an entire half of our population to the status of “non compos mentis.” How easy, then, to forget they even exist as soon as a Democrat wins…
And what a mistake. They’re there. They’re not going anywhere. The bitter truth about the United States of America is that we are not, I repeat, we are not, and in fact we are very far from…united. But we refuse to hear each other: They write us off as pompous liars; we write them off as ignorant liars.
What I feel we need to do is put aside not their blindness to our supposed “facts,” but our blindness to the fact that they don’t care about our facts. I personally disagree with just about every single thing Trump supporters think and feel. But tough; they’re Americans too, and there are, and will remain, plenty of them. Until I can truly see and acknowledge them, I haven’t grown up.