If polling is accurate and former vice president Joe Biden wins handily next week, we can look forward to some very big changes: competent Cabinet officials, coherent policy initiatives, respect for the Constitution, a foreign policy that favors democracies rather than brutal dictatorships and depoliticization of the Justice Department, to name just a few.

But apart from concrete policy, we can also look forward to a host of things that we once took for granted:

  • White House news releases without typos, weird punctuation and other glaring errors.
  • Official documents that read like official documents in tone and that come out by email or hard copy, as opposed to tweets.
  • The absence of childish name-calling, insults, racist remarks, gaffes characterized as “jokes” and singling out of individual companies simply because they failed to boost the president’s ego.
  • A White House press shop that earns the presumption of trustworthiness until proven otherwise and — at worst — relies on “I don’t know” or vague evasion rather than outright lies.
  • News conferences in which the president does not personally insult members of the media, exclude them for writing things he does not like or dub them “the enemy of the people.”
  • Presidential interviews with respected news figures, not sycophantic media personalities.
  • A normal presidential schedule in which hours of TV time are not built in.
  • No more Stalinesque Cabinet meetings in which officials try to top one another in fawning over the president.
  • A president who communicates directly with the leaders of the House and Senate.
  • An administration that knows climate change is real and that more intense forest fires don’t result merely from insufficient sweeping of the forest floor.
  • An engaged first lady who takes up important public causes with tangible results.
  • An administration without relatives working in the White House.
  • A president who does not make money from funneling attention and revenue to his holdings.
  • No judicial nominee who is rated “not qualified” by the American Bar Association.
  • An administration in which “Infrastructure Week” is about infrastructure.
  • A president who can comfort the nation in times of tragedy.
  • A president who does not use the military as props.
  • A president who has some basic grasp of American history, including racial injustice.
  • A president whose advisers are not overwhelmingly White men.
  • No presidential awards for political hacks, contributors and toxic media figures.
  • A president who never utters the phrases “red state” or “blue city.”
  • A White House counsel’s office that at least tries to get it right by providing advice in accord with the Constitution and statutes and polices unethical conduct.
  • An administration that favors easy access to voting.
  • Policy pronouncements issued only after consideration by relevant experts and departments.
  • A president who does not celebrate police brutality or excuse war crimes.
  • A president who does not embarrass us on the world stage.
  • A president who knows that there are no NATO “dues” and consumers pay for tariffs.
  • A president who understands the benefits of forward deployments and alliances.
  • A president who does not encourage Chinese detention camps or defend the human rights record of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.

We could go on, but you get the idea. When you start making a list, you realize just how abnormal and infuriating President Trump’s conduct and rhetoric have been. You also remember that having a president who is a decent human being and tries to put the voters’ interests above his own is no small thing.

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Actor John Lithgow, author of the 'Trumpty Dumpty' poetry books, explains how he got mean — and empathetic — to write about the "despotic age" of Trump. (The Washington Post)

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