Win or lose this week, Donald Trump has already severely crippled this nation. We're not just talking about his abject failure to combat COVID-19, which already has killed a quarter of a million Americans and is on course with renewed spikes to kill many more while the Trump administration takes the road of least resistance and mocks accepted precautions.
Nor are we talking about the president's repeated sabotage (and his Republican Senate support to delay) any extension of COVID-19 economic aid to the millions left unemployed after the novel coronavirus began sweeping the country.
And we're not talking about the racial and social unrest Trump repeatedly stoked. Or the more than 5,400 Latino immigrant children he allowed to be separated from their parents and caged at our southern border. Or the 545 of those children who are still in U.S. custody because the Trump administration didn't make adequate preparation to relocate their parents, whom the administration deported.
We're also not talking about the nearly 100 environmental and safety rules and laws that Trump and his idiots have repealed, rolled back or placed on track to scuttle — all while he also separated us from the Paris climate accord and while we keep watching California burn and the South flood.
We're not even talking about the obscene tax break Trump pushed through to benefit himself, his family and the other wealthiest people in our country while the rest of us effectively make and keep less money than we did decades ago.
We're not talking even about his almost strong-armed robbery of our tax dollars while he failed to pay as much in taxes as we do, or the millions he raked in for his resorts and businesses when the Secret Service and other government employees had to follow him around on his golf escapades and his ego-driven, COVID-superspreader rallies. Rallies where his "team" management was so poor that scores of his supporters were left in freezing cold temperatures for hours with no bus rides back to their vehicles.
No. What we're talking about is Donald Trump's vile divisiveness that pits people against one another as though they were his toy lions and gladiators. With each tweet or executive order or off-hand insult, he edges us closer to another authoritarian state and further from democracy.
Take, for instance, his recent and extraordinary directive allowing his administration to weed out career federal employees that he views as disloyal. These are nonpartisan civil servants we're talking about, and his directive — four years in the making — is an assault on nonpartisan civil service and the worker protections it is supposed to provide against the winds of politics.
The Washington Post reports the civil service attack began soon after Trump's inauguration with the hire of a young aide from the Heritage Foundation. That aide, with other Trumpites, spent the bulk of Trump's term "working from a little-known West Wing policy shop."
The result was a blueprint allowing the dictator — er, a president — to "hold employees accountable, sideline their labor unions and give the president more power to hire and fire them," much as he would yesterday's political appointees.
Trump sees it as a checkmate to the "deep state" he believes is out to disrupt his coup.
The White House calls it "labor reforms" and says it will "create a government that serves the people."
It was crafted in such secrecy that senior officials across the government had no idea it was coming, according to The Post.
And now we're two days away from the election.
The U.S., as of Wednesday, already had seen 53% of all the balloting cast in 2016, according to news reports.
Why? Largely because many of us had long ago unequivocally made up our minds. Also, we are afraid of the COVID-19 virus and nervous of the possible — even threatened — Election Day antics of an unhinged Donald Trump and his "stand-down-and-stand-by" cult. Note that we did not say Trump and his supporters. He has supporters who really are "fine people" taking a wrong side. But his cult — Proud Boys and their ilk — are another matter entirely.
As for these swelling vote totals, please note that for once much of the south is not behind. In fact, early on both Tennesseans and Georgians had cast 77% of the total votes made in 2016. North Carolinians had cast 76% of their 2016 votes. Floridians had tallied 72%; Kentuckians, 62%; Virginians 55%. Massive Texas touted 91%.
Clearly, election day will be suspenseful, but many experts are telling us not to expect a full count or answer on Tuesday night. But there are other questions that need answers.
Can our nation heal, and how long will it take? Is there room for those of us with goodwill to come together despite these bitter political differences that Trump both inherited and deliberately stoked? What will it take to reconcile us?
Trump didn't cause America's wounds, but he surely ripped off the scabs. It — and he — has deeply damaged us. More. Much more. Sure, historians are rushing of late to tell us we've been here — sort of — before, with other elections and other presidents.
But really, does any of that matter? This is where we are now. This is our time.
And it is past time that we Americans stand up and fight back to heal. No matter the eventual outcome of this election.
It is time to remember that we are America.