Everybody knows what would happen if some kid walked up to another kid, called him a punk, and punched him in the mouth.
We understand that to be a just and reasonable consequence to name-calling and battery.
What we have in the current president exemplifies the result of a life led without consequence. Nothing indicates that he was a particularly good student, yet he used the advantages of status to gain admission to an Ivy League school after two undistinguished years at Fordham. He dodged the draft during the Vietnam War not once but several times. He declared bankruptcy six times in two decades to stiff creditors while building his own personal brand and wealth. He made a habit of entering into contracts and then breaking them when he thought he could get away with it, or when he didn’t feel like paying. He avoids paying his fair share of income taxes–I cannot name a teacher, lawyer, or doctor who paid only $750 in federal income taxes during any fiscal year.
Trump would have people believe that he gets away with such things because he’s smarter than anyone else and because he’s a skilled negotiator. The truth seems to be that like most schoolyard bullies, he does whatever he can get away with. Nobody has been able to get him to face a fact for 74 years.
The American people have voted him out of office. We don’t know the exact margin yet because results in some states are being recounted. What we do know is that Biden’s current advantages can be measured in the thousands in each state he won. No recount in American history has flipped more than a few hundred votes. Biden also won the election by more than 5 million votes nationwide.
Trump cannot reckon with losing because he has never had to face a consequence. Unlike his failures in business, his failures in this election cannot be wiped away in a bankruptcy court. Unlike his failed marriages, he cannot soothe discontent with alimony. The checks in his political account are starting to bounce. The damage he he has done to our American brand of democracy will not be fully articulated for years–not until the people who have supported him come to grips with his narcissistic blurring of fantasies and facts.
Historians who write about the Trump presidency will have a difficult time isolating the worst thing that he did during his term. Whatever that moment turns out to be, it will have as its root Trump’s conviction that he can do anything he wants because people will let him.
Where will American politics go from here? Biden will probably not have a majority in the Senate that will rubber stamp progressive proposals for health care and the environment–among other things. However, Biden does have five decades of experience in bringing people from different perspectives to the table to hammer out legislation that can be beneficial to all Americans. The split realignment (Dems running the White House and House of Representatives, with the GOP controlling the Senate) in Washington suggests that the people expect government to find middle ground between the left and right extremes that dominate our headlines. I hope that will be the consequence of this election.