What happened yesterday — after first NBC News then the rest of the world finally got on board and declared Joe Biden and Kamala Harris the winners — has never happened before. The result of an American election caused outbreaks of spontaneous joy to erupt not just in America but throughout the world. Church bells pealed in Paris. Fireworks exploded over London. In America, from coast to coast, people felt compelled to take their celebrations from in front of their TV screens to the streets. Sometimes you just feel so good, you have to share it with people.
Now, to be fair, I live in the Highland Park section of LA. It’s Silver Lake Adjacent. In Tuesday’s election, LA (no bastion of right wing sentiment) leaned even further to the left than where we were. We have a homeless problem, you see and LA has decided to lead with its humanity. My point is, while there are parts of LA that did not celebrate yesterday (I hear it was quiet as a tomb in Torrance), most of LA took a massive sigh of relief and felt the need to take that massive sigh together.
Here’s a snippet of the celebration in the Silver Lake neighborhood —
Now, I want to point out one thing about the celebrations: their nature. There was gloating. Absolutely yes there was and I will confess to doing my fair share of it. Boy, did it feel good! And I do not feel one bit guilty. That’s because of the nature of our celebration. It was focused squarely on one person and, for the most part, one person only: Donald Trump.
When I called to celebrate with my 84 year old mom, my first words to her were “Ding dong, the witch is dead”. I wish I knew the number of other people who heard that trill in their head the instant they knew the Age of Trump had reached its end. Ding dong, the witch IS dead — and good bloody riddance!
Take the loathing of Donald Trump that will be eternal out of the celebration and all you have is joy. Pure joy. It felt — being part of it — like a breath of fresh air. A massive invisible weight had been lifted from our head and shoulders. When the news first broke yesterday, I’m not ashamed to say that I wept. It was cathartic. I wasn’t alone in that either.
Aside from Trump, there was no “And let’s rub their noses in it!” Not even after three Hell’s Angels-looking guys on Harleys roared into the crowd on Sunset Boulevard — we were intermittently blocking the street — intent not on hitting anyone, but on scaring people. The crowd — having leapt out of the way — watched the Trumpanistas drive away indignantly. But they did not turn the moment into a “Hey, let’s get them!” That never occurred to the crowd because, well, they were feeling too good about what just happened.
Why wasn’t one hundred percent of America celebrating? Why, — how — could anyone live through the past four years, the pandemic especially with Trump’s calamitous response fresh in your mind, and NOT pull the lever on animal instinct alone for Joe Biden? Ah, well… never forget that on the day Richard Nixon resigned because of Watergate, his approval rating still sat at 29%. That “silent majority” is still out there, seething, hating the rest of us.
Well, aside from their shitty attitude, we’ve never hated them back. We’ve always wanted a way to talk to them without them spitting at us. In the history of modern American politics, the onus has always been on Progressives to compromise — even if it’s with out-and-out fascists. The playing field here has never been level. That’s the thing. Our perspective started out skewed. Hell, our founding document says plainly “All men are created equal” by which they meant if you were a white, Christian, land-owning male, the playing field was level. If you weren’t, tough luck.
But, fortunately, while enshrining their racism, America’s founders allowed for constant revisions to their blueprints. And so we’ve updated the structure as best we could. But you can’t update a foundation with flaws. You have to revisit the foundation — fix it — then build from there.
That’s what America has to do. That’s what they said with their votes. That’s what their joy said. We suddenly saw that an outrageous aspiration maybe possibly could happen.
We were out in the streets celebrating the return of America’s potential yesterday. We’ve got miles to go before we sleep where achieving that potential is concerned. But we demonstrated — clearly — that, when engaged, the real America (diverse and woke as hell) has the potential to realize America’s potential. America and Americans can do anything in part because of who we are: the whole world.
America is the product (once you subtract the Native Americans who the Europeans decimated with their germs) of just about every other country on Earth “sending people” to help build it. Even the English were invaders before they were inhabitants. The English instilled two things — a strong European sensibility (for what it’s worth) and a strong commercial sensibility. From England’s point of view, the colonies weren’t meant to produce freedom, they were meant to produce a solid return on an investment.
Money has always been the draw of America. Money and the potential for self-reinvention. This really was (once emptied of the locals) a wide open space. A blank canvas waiting to be filled with humans and their ideas. That’s the dynamic tension at our core — the struggle between a magnificent idea and the blind spot that racism (among other “isms”) causes. Unless and until the magnificent idea applies equally to everyone, it might as well apply to no one.
Donald Trump was the epitome of what happens to America when love of money drives everything and love of people drives nothing. He epitomizes money’s corrupting influence and power. Money will always corrupt. But, when completely disassociated from all principles — that’s Trumpism. Donald Trump epitomized Republican, profits-above-people ideas taken to their extremes. That’s profits-above-principles, too.
More than half of America hated that that was how America was representing itself when it wasn’t anything like how the MAJORITY of Americans felt. Former Republican Rick Wilson may actually be wrong about one thing. “Everything Trump Touches Dies” with one exception: America. We’re wounded — no argument — but we might yet back back up off the floor and fight our way out of this.
Americans chose by a sizeable majority to deny money’s corruption in favor of human beings: we voted for and on principle.
That’s what the world saw and that’s why they cheered for us.
The 30% of Americans who still love Nixon will never play nicely with the rest of us. We will do everything we can to demonstrate how much we want to include them in every bit of success we want every American to experience. We’ll include them even. Quick reminder — plenty of those Trump lovers also love their ACA (so long as you don’t call it Obamacare). They haven’t thought through what will happen when the SCOTUS guts the ACA and leaves all them all wondering who’ll help them with their heroin addiction now?
We need to be patient. Very, very good things are coming but only after a lot more hard work. We’ve achieved the first goal. That’s it. This is the platform from which we have a chance to launch a better America.
A lot of Americans feel exactly the same way. In fact, they felt so good about the idea as it occurred to them that Americans… if you weren’t there, you shoulda been.
It was AWESOME!