No, Mr. President

by Carrie Kalish
Scary Mommy and Tasos Katopodis/Getty

“These are the things and events that happen when a sacred landslide election victory is so unceremoniously & viciously stripped away from great patriots who have been badly & unfairly treated for so long. Go home with love & in peace. Remember this day forever!”

That is the recently posted, now removed, tweet from President Donald J. Trump in the wake of the insurrection at the Capitol.

It’s easy to remove it from social media. (And I have argued that his Twitter account should have been silenced long before this, owing to its explosion of lies and libel.) But we shouldn’t erase this one from public dialogue. Indeed, we must memorialize it – recognizing that it either marks the day MAGA hit its inevitable rock-bottom, forcing those enslaved to it (or rather to its “base”) to finally reject it, condemn it, and heal from it. Or it marks the day our democracy — about which we’ve been too complacent, too convinced this too shall pass — officially dies.

I’m hoping it’s the former, or at least, it’s the beginning of it. And when this is all over, when this dark and shameful chapter in our history is behind us, we will need to do some deep soul searching. Not only about why this country was so ripe for the rise of a demagogue, not only about why so many felt so beholden to a man that didn’t share their principles, not only about why we have an almost insatiable hunger for conspiracy and conspiracists, but about why, despite all the talk – on TV, on radio, on social media – we could no longer hear each other.

That social/psychological investigation is, however, for another day when we are past this. In the meantime, in the here and now and heart of the crisis, it’s up to the rest of us to say: No!

No, Mr. President. These are not “things and events” that inevitably happen. These are the things that happen when a republic is replaced by a cult of personality. When any man (or woman) — and particularly this man — is idolized. When we brand our country with its leader’s name, waving flags in salute to an individual instead of an idea or an ideal.

No, Mr. President, “these things” aren’t par for the course of defeat. They are cultivated by a rejection of shared reality. When civil, partisan debate over policy and its execution is replaced by a disagreement over the truth, itself. And when we allow ourselves to feed from the teat of alternative facts, turning to memes and social media not as distraction but as our source of actual information.

No, Mr. President, “great patriots” are not owned by one side. Indeed, these are the things that happen when we label the other side as “evil” or “sick” or even as our “opposition.” We were supposed to have different philosophies, and different paths, not different objectives.

No, Mr. President, this election was not “stolen.” It was lost. There is no legislative-state-judicial trifecta conspiring against you. There are only more people that reject you than like you. More people that recognize your danger than those who don’t, won’t, or accept it in return for your policies or your favor.

No, Mr. President, you don’t get to define sacred. What’s sacred is the contract we have had with all 44 of your predecessors and that we will have again with your successor. The contract with a leader who sees citizens not partisans, who focuses on the job, not the (tweeted) jab.

So yes, Mr. President. Let’s “remember this day forever.”

Let’s remember this as the day we say enough is enough.

Let’s remember this day as a bipartisan rebuke of tyranny and treason and sedition and all those ugly words we don’t like saying out loud.

Let’s remember this day that even more of us than the 81,283,485 who rejected you in November, reject you and your perverse brand of “patriotism” again and for good.

Let’s remember this day as the day that despite your best efforts, Congress renounced their prior (and fraudulent) objections and resumed conducting their business — the people’s business — in formalizing the election of Joe Biden.

Let’s remember this day as the day we united to say no, once and for all.