As of this moment — 7:30 PM on Thursday night, November Fifth in the accursed Year of the Plague Two Thousand and Twenty — I am reasonably confident that Joe Biden will be the next president of the United States of America. Votes are still being counted in a handful of states and everyone in the nation — hell, everyone in the world — is chewing their fingernails to the quick waiting for the final tallies, but the numbers are all trending solidly in that direction. My candidate appears to have won. The long, exhausting reign of Donald J Trump will soon be over.
But I have to be honest, I’m not feeling very triumphant right now. This is probably going to seem a bit silly, but… do you remember the scene in Return of the Jedi when the Super Star Destroyer, aka Vader’s command ship, the Executor, is destroyed? It’s a turning point in the big space battle at the film’s climax; a Rebel fighter plows through the Executor‘s bridge and the out-of-control juggernaut heels over and pierces into the Death Star below, exploding in a gargantuan fireball. On the bridge of the opposing Rebel cruiser, a cheer goes up from the officers in the backgrounds… but Admiral Ackbar doesn’t join in. Instead, he looks downward and then slowly leans back in his seat. His expression — as much as you can read the expression of a latex space-salmon — is curiously somber. Even a bit sad. I’ve always interpreted this as Ackbar mourning the waste of the hundreds of thousands of lives that were surely aboard that destroyer, sailors not unlike his own crew, just doing their jobs for their service and their government. They may have been enemies, but Ackbar is an empathetic creature in my view and takes no pleasure in the things the war demands of him. And of course, the battle isn’t over yet.
Do you understand where I’m going with this? I am Admiral Ackbar in this scenario. I’m watching the Executor go down but there’s no pleasure in it for me because I know the cost of this victory, all the wasted lives lost to COVID and god knows what else, and the war is going to rage on. Perhaps literally, if Trump manages to entice the Proud Boys or other, shall we say, low-information types to violence. At the very least, he’s not going to concede and extracting him from the White House will be… frustrating. As will be a Biden presidency with Mitch McConnell still in charge of the Senate. My liberal dreams of quick action on healthcare, climate change, voting reform, and a thousand other things all slammed into a brick wall when the Democrats failed to crack the Republican majority. And even with Trump himself gone, Trumpism isn’t going anywhere. His base will make him a martyr, and I don’t expect their awful behavior is going to be shamed back into the shadows anytime soon. These hardheaded loudmouths will be spewing their conspiracy theory garbage and making life difficult for anyone they perceive as different from them for a long time to come.
So yeah, my guy won, but it’s something of a Pyrrhic victory.
Still… Trump will soon be gone, or at least out of the spotlight. And what a relief that will be, just to have a respite from the daily outrage and the constant, constant nattering…