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Berry Craig: No more, no more, no more; finally we are rid of our Sawdust Caesar


Nearly 75 million (and counting) of us have said no more to Donald Trump’s politics of hate, fear and division.

No more to his grievance politics. No more to demagoguery. No more to racism, sexism, misogyny, nativism, xenophobia, homophobia, and religious bigotry.

No more to Trumpian boorishness and buffoonery. No more to his fawning over murderous dictators and dissing our democratic allies. No more to making us the laughingstock of the world.

The race has been called. Joe Biden has won. And the story is that we — Democrats, Never Trumper Republicans, and independents — have allied in common cause to make America’s Sawdust Caesar a one-term president.

To no one’s surprise, Trump isn’t about to concede. He’s still wildly screeching foul, claiming — without a scintilla of proof — that he’s been cheated out of a second term. Presumably, The Washington Post will add that torrent of lies to its long list of Trump’s false or misleading statements.

The tally of lies needs updating anyway. The total was 22,247 through Aug. 27.

Donald Trump (Wikimedia Commons)

“Let’s be absolutely clear: There is zero — zero — evidence of fraud or corruption,” The Post editorialized. “What Mr. Trump sees as nefarious is something more mundane though undoubtedly painful for him: He is losing.”

“STOP THE COUNT!” Trump testily tweeted to no avail.

“Of all the violations of things that we hold precious in this country, this tweet by President Trump on Thursday, demanding that millions of voters be disenfranchised so he can steal an election, is the one that will live in infamy,” Timothy Egan wrote in The New York Times.

Anyway, a deck of cards has four aces, and Trump figured he was holding three: voter suppression, voter intimidation, and rushing another far-right-wing ideologue onto the Supreme Court to boost an already conservative, Trump-tilting majority to 6-3.

Nevertheless, Trump has lost the election. And so far, his flurry of baseless lawsuits to overturn the people’s will has gone nowhere.

He’s headed for the trash heap of history. This historian has no doubt that Trump’s administration will be chronicled as the worst ever. Certainly, Trump will fall below the four bottom feeders: Warren G. Harding, Franklin Pierce, Andrew Johnson, and James Buchanan.

George Conway, spouse of former Trump courtier KellyAnne Conway, is clued in, even if his wife isn’t. “It’s somehow fitting,” he wrote in The Post. “A presidency launched with lies, and fueled by them ever since, was destined to finish with the worst of them all.”

Yet Trump “has caused damage to an extent that only a herculean effort by a future president and a dedicated and Constitution-loving Congress can undo,” Colbert I. King wrote in The Post the day after election day. “The bitterness of this election is not an accident — some kind of unforeseen departure from an ‘old America’ to which the nation can return once the keys to the White House are turned over to the next president.”

Joe Biden indeed faces a heavy lift, Roxane Gay wrote in The Times. “Republicans are likely to maintain control of the Senate, which will make enacting progressive legislation nearly impossible. Odious politicians like Mitch McConnell and Lindsey Graham were re-elected. Though Mr. Biden will probably win more votes than any previous presidential candidate, that President Trump was a contender at all is a disgrace. That Mr. Trump has received nearly 70 million votes is a disgrace. And it says a lot about this country that too many people refuse to face.”

Gay added: “Since Mr. Trump’s election, we have watched him and the Republican Party execute their plans systematically and relentlessly. They have dismantled democratic norms with vigor. We have seen an endless parade of horrors, from families being separated at the Mexican border to a shattered economy, to an administration completely indifferent to a pandemic that continues to ravage the country. And the list goes on and on. Atrocity only begets more atrocity.”

Trumpism, the political faith of thousands of Kentucky white folks, won’t disappear with the Trump presidency. “His supporters will turn him into a living martyr,” said Murray State University historian Brian Clardy. (Trump again carried 118 of Kentucky’s 120 counties — all but Jefferson (Louisville) and Fayette (Lexington). He pocketed 62.7 percent of the vote – two tenths better than in 2016.

Ever-Trumpers everywhere are “committed to defending white supremacy and patriarchy at all costs,” Gay also wrote. “Its citizens are the people who believe in QAnon conspiracy theories and take Mr. Trump’s misinformation as gospel. They see America as a country of scarcity, where there will never be enough of anything to go around, so it is every man and woman for themselves.”

Trump’s die-hard base also is unconcerned “with the collective, because they believe any success they achieve by virtue of their white privilege is achieved by virtue of merit,” according to Gay. “They see equity as oppression. They are so terrified, in fact, that as the final votes were counted in Detroit, a group of them swarmed the venue shouting, ‘Stop the count.’ In Arizona, others swarmed a venue shouting, ‘Count the votes.’ The citizens of this version of America only believe in democracy that serves their interests.”

But despite his braying, blustering, and breast-beating, Trump will exit the White House, albeit minus the grace and dignity of other presidents who lost bids for second terms.

It’s been suggested that Trump will try to start his own right-wing cable TV network where his lies and slanders will go unchallenged. Of course, that’s unless he follows a procession of Trumpian toadies into court and on to prison.

Meanwhile, Conway wrote that ultimately, the presumably soon-to-be lame-duck president’s “deranged claims of fraud will have accomplished only one thing: He will have squandered his last and best chance to show he could admit the truth and, for once, do something right by the country instead of himself.”

Trump doing right by anybody but himself? Maybe when hogs fly and kids stop shooting hoops in Kentucky.

Nah – not even then.

Berry Craig of Mayfield is a professor emeritus of history at West Kentucky Community College in Paducah and an author of five books on the Civil War in Kentucky. The last one, published by the University Press of Kentucky, is Kentucky’s Rebel Press: Pro-Confederate Media in the Civil War. His critically-acclaimed Kentucky Confederates: Secession, Civil War, and the Jackson Purchase, also from the University Press, has been reprinted in paperback. This commentary was first published in Forward Kentucky.


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