The day has finally come. The long nightmare of the Trump presidency has ended, although the damage he has done will linger. For progressives, his policies were anathema: his deregulation of environmental protections; his disastrous immigration plan (or non-plan), highlighted by the separation of families at our southern border; his “America First” strategy on the world stage that jeopardized our relationships with allies and emboldened our adversaries; his ambivalence towards nativism and his faux law-and-order claims that were ultimately exposed in the insurrection at the Capitol; his calamitous abdication of responsibilities in handling the coronavirus pandemic all mark him as destined to be remembered as the worst President in US history. These things will take years—perhaps decades—to undo.

But his most lasting legacy, and his greatest threat to future generations of Americans, has been the attitude of arrogance, greed and self-centeredness with which he served. In a time of hyper-partisanship, Donald Trump—while not inventing racist rhetoric or egocentric rule–gave sanction to these qualities at the very highest levels of government, thereby giving permission to the rest of us to bruise and batter each other, especially those who differ by race, religion, gender identity or class. And far too many of us were willing followers.

And now it is our turn. It is not a time to gloat, but a time to move together in unity with imagination, dedication, selflessness and humility. The word “our” refers not simply to supporters of the newly inaugurated President and Vice President, nor to Democrats, nor to liberals or “coastal elites,” but to those Americans everywhere who believe in kindness and decency, honor and integrity, justice and fairness for all; to those who have a special place in their hearts for marginalized and under-represented peoples and to those who value competence in government. And it pays homage to the 400,000 lives lost during the pandemic as Joe Biden and Kamala Harris did as their first public act on Inauguration Eve during the Memorial Service at the Lincoln Memorial.

Yes, it is “our turn” to celebrate the departure of a venal and vindictive president, and to rejoice in the enduring strength and resilience of our country. But it is also our turn to assume personal responsibility. The goodness that we seek in governance must be practiced by each of us at every level and in every sector of our society. And, we must begin this effort among our most intimate relationships—with family, friends and close colleagues—and build to systemic justice and inclusion.

How we treat one another will go a long way in turning our country toward the “more perfect union” we claim to want to be. As the new administration dawns and the transfer of power is secure, each of us must hold ourselves accountable to live out the ideals, still too often unrealized, at our nation’s founding.

5 thoughts on “Our Turn

  1. Lovely Bob. Yes. And I wonder how this would have read without any reference to the former President. Without the words “venal” or “vindictive” A beautiful vision for the future only if we too move on, leave that past, dealing only with those traits as they may, hopefully rarely, appear again. . We need to move forward and, focus on those whose actions that represent the ideals we seek. Just a small editorial suggestion for a man I admire.

  2. Your own words, “And now it is our turn. It is not a time to gloat, but a time to move together in unity with imagination, dedication, selflessness and humility.”

    You cannot preach to move together….etc. after making remarks “And now it is our turn”.

    Your remarks speak of your intent to preach not what to actually do. Fine, now, it is your turn to make unfounded claims; and then it shall be their turn to do the same, meanwhile the country is left behind. You are missing the BIG Picture, it is not about your turns, it is about a nation and a country.

    Uniting a nation begins with honesty, not another dictatorial decisions from the 1st moment, isn’t that what happens in what you called 3rd world countries; uniting a nation begins with honesty, not by marginalizing others with opinionated bias news media outlets where elegant writers hide their dishonesty behind false pretenses and well manicured words; uniting a nation begins by truly putting and serving the nation’s collective needs before a turn or party. Rev. Chase, highly educated does not means highly qualified to advocate.

    Using the right to freedom of speech, I must say, it is a shame and sad that you belong to a party not a country. The true love of a country begins by being honest!! Thank you.

  3. This Thursday evening, I’ll be joining (zoom) a group of supposed learned people who wish to discuss just how Democrats propose unification when (according to the host of the presentation), Dems ask Republicans to “make sacrifices” in areas of free speech, gun control, abortion rights and the environment. It was disturbing to see Dems though this Reps eyes. It seems to me, that at the very least, representatives regardless of branch of government they serve or party affiliation, that each government servant needs to thoroughly know the US Constitution, believe in the rule of law, and hold to their oath of office. Me thinks that would be a fantastic starting place going forward. Thanks Bob!

  4. You correctly note, “Donald Trump — while not inventing racist rhetoric or egocentric rule — gave sanction to these qualities at the very highest levels of government.”

    To many of us Trump was the inevitable outcome of tribal politics writ large over a backdrop of institutional gender, race and wealth privileges. His swift ascendancy to power and equally rapid decline may be a sign that the socio-economic and systemic autocratic cancers which continue to plague the country might well be undergoing the beginning of their own, also inevitable, death rattles.

    From each their endings may new beginnings arise.

    Let us hope. Let us all have hope.

  5. Reading these comments, I’m wondering if we can ever get away from our love (yes, love) of confrontation and division.. I share Bob C’s hopeful feeling. I have hope because, just for today, I can breathe easier and know that responsible people are back in charge. And knowing this, maybe I can actually sleep! I have confidence in a sober, experienced team of professionals and I have faith because I know we are, at least, moving again in the direction of transparency, justice, healing and actual equality. 🙏

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