Good for the Soul

Like many Americans, we found ourselves weary and worn as we continued awaiting the results of the presidential election. We were eager to escape the worries and woes of the world. So we set out for Loyd Park on what promised to be a beautiful fall weekend. We weren’t disappointed.

A little before 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, we started receiving notifications that Joe Biden had won the state of Pennsylvania and, with it, the presidency. The contest was finally over. We could exhale.

Anyone who looks at the “Hello There” section to the right of our landing page will read this: “We write for ourselves, our memory and our family, but all are welcome to follow along.” In other words, this is more than a travel log, it’s also a diary of our thoughts and conversations–a window into the world we experience and the life we live on the road. That means we occasionally drift away from our “travels and adventures” lane and more toward “personal reflections and musings.”

This weekend, with its momentous events, seemed like a good time for reflection.

Donald Trump has been defeated. In his world view, he has become what he despises: a loser. It’s rare for American presidents to be defeated after a single term. In our lifetime, it happened to George H.W. Bush, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. As it turns out, history treated them far better than did the electorate.

History won’t be as kind to Trump. Despite his mobilizing unprecedented numbers of voters, and making it possible for Republicans to actually gain seats in the House, he was decisively rejected. As for the rest of us, our grueling nightmare of having an unstable, delusional, narcissistic maniac at the center of our national life has finally ended.

Although he remains fixated on false claims that the election was stolen, our lame duck president shows no signs of responding to the worsening pandemic. Over the course of the next two months he will undoubtedly try every trick in his playbook to impede the transition to a new administration. But he has become irrelevant.

Near the end of her life, in 1999, the legendary advice columnist Ann Landers asked readers to select the best chestnuts of her 47-year career. They selected nuggets of heartland wisdom about loneliness, integrity, romance, and even meatloaf. There was also a fortune cookie–worthy aphorism about keeping grudges.

“Hanging onto resentment,” Landers wrote, “is letting someone you despise live rent-free in your head.”

Donald Trump has been living rent-free in our heads for nearly four years, and we’re ready to evict him. This master of capturing and using human attention was powerful enough to get an entire country to react to his agenda, his presence, his tweets, everything he did. Even the people who resisted him still paid attention to him.

We’re glad to finally move on, because we believe that decency, kindness, humility and empathy are still the hallmarks of good leaders and, in President-elect Biden, we have an opportunity to restore the soul of our nation.