Not to put too fine a point on it, the preacher said: “I’d like him to die of natural causes. I don’t want him to be a martyr; we don’t need another holiday. I’d like to see him die, like Ted Kennedy, of brain cancer.”
The following month, during Obama’s Sept. 9, 2009, speech to a joint session of Congress, South Carolina Republican Rep. Joe Wilson shouted, “You lie!,” while boorish behavior flourished in the GOP seats.
A year later, Sen. Mitch McConnell said in an Oct. 23, 2010, interview published in the National Journal: “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
It was like that for the eight years that Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were in the White House. Make no mistake, Republican congressional leadership, and many right-wing commentators, didn’t honor the Obama-Biden victories in 2008 or 2012. They never wished them well during their eight years of service. Instead, they looked for every opportunity to obstruct their leadership.
And, I fear, it’s going to be like that again. Thanks to the Constitution, President Trump’s stranglehold on the U.S. government will end at noon on Jan. 20. But I don’t think the Trumpism horror show is going anywhere.
The sentiments underlying the behavior of Limbaugh, Wilson, Anderson and McConnell didn’t disappear with Obama’s departure from the White House grounds. The nationalism, xenophobia, homophobia and distaste for folks of a darker hue that informed the opposition to Obama are manifested in today’s Trumpism, which comes with the added ingredient of a self-centered, arrogant, merciless autocrat.
Like many others, I hail Biden’s intention to unify a country so polarized under Trump’s divisive leadership.
Restoring the soul of America, making America respected around the world again, as Biden has pledged, is a goal that is likely shared widely across the nation.
Many of us — though perhaps not Trump or his disciples — are proud of Sen. Kamala D. Harris’s historic ascension to America’s second-highest office; she is the first woman, Black, Asian American and HBCU graduate to win the vice presidency.
And Harris’s description of Biden “as a president for all Americans” sets him apart from the outgoing president. If she and Biden can bridge the gap dividing this politically, socially and racially polarized country, that alone will be a gift to U.S. democracy.
But there is reality.
Far too many of the people having fits over Trump’s defeat believe to their core that he was cheated out of winning the election. They don’t regard Biden, Harris and the incoming administration as political opponents but as the enemy.
An enemy that denied the nation a free and fair election. An enemy that should not be handed power.
An enemy never to be accepted, even if it does take over the government.
An administration to be undermined at every turn because its opponents believe the country is behind Trump, and not the enemy.
That kind of thinking is going to motivate a Trump-inspired reaction that will stage hit-and-run political attacks against the incoming administration every step along the way. Mass intransigence in the Senate, should Republicans maintain control. Relentless rhetorical bombardments by a numerically strengthened House minority. Waves of resistance in GOP state legislatures.
And no telling what Trump’s hardcore supporters could do in the streets.
Which is to say achieving the goal of a reconciled and unified America where differences are respected and addressed civilly won’t be easy. Nonetheless, it needs to be a solemn Biden administration commitment.
But by all means, maintain focus, practice self-restraint, be alert and keep your guard up. Trumpism is not going anywhere.
Read more from Colbert King’s archive.