Over the past 20 years, I've written and posted more than 700 webpages in my eclectic DelsJourney and ExtremeGeographer websites covering a vast plethora of totally-unrelated topics, including The Waltonsthe Battle of the Coral Sea, my Toyota pickup truck, and the difference between hay and straw (curiously, one of my most popular pages).  But one topic I never discuss is politics, and that's on purpose. 

I made an exception back in November 2016, though, when I was equally-parts stunned and devastated by the election of Donald Trump.  At the time, I was near the end of a 32,000-mile, eight month drive around the U.S. during which I had visited literally every corner of America – all 16 extreme geographic compass points – and I spent the week after the 2016 election camping in the balmy Florida Keys.  As I sat in my tropical campsite that post-election week, both dumbfounded by the results and apprehensive for America’s future, I tried to put into words what I feared a Trump administration could mean for the U.S. over the coming four years. 

At the end of the week, I posted a webpage called A Sad Day for America predicting what I feared the next four years might bring under Trump.  Here’s an excerpt:

 

What Worries America (written in November 2016)

Trump lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes, so as devastated as I am in knowing that he'll be president for the next four years, I take some small comfort in knowing that his hateful and divisive attitude doesn’t represent most of America.  Even though I'm a centrist who's in the demographic (a white, middle-aged guy) that'll be least affected by Trump's blatant racism, I'm still worried about what a Trump presidency will mean for this country and the world.  And there are millions of Americans outside my demographic who are downright terrified. 

Election Night was a double-whammy for moderates like myself.  First was the shock of Trump winning the election when, for many months, he had been behind Hillary Clinton in virtually every national poll and was projected to lose "bigly."  Of course, my main question after the election was, “How could all the pollsters have been so wrong?”  

That’s looking back.  The other whammy for most Americans is looking forward, worried about the next four years with a demagogue like Trump in the White House.  Specifically:

  • We’re worried about a president who just makes stuff up.  JMSU isn't where Trump went to college; it's his campaign motto:  Just Make Stuff Up.  During his campaign, Donald Trump spewed out hundreds of egregious lies (like Obama's birthplace) that planted seeds of hatred in the minds of his followers.  It's scary to think that millions of Americans can be easily swayed by a cult leader like Trump and that millions rely more on Facebook posts and Twitter feeds for their news than on reputable sources such as NBC, PBS or even, on occasion, Fox.  Just because you repeat a lie a hundred times doesn't make it true.  The main lesson of Trump's victory?  If you want to win an election in America, Just Make Stuff Up because some are unwilling or too lazy to question it.

  • We’re worried about a rise in hatred in America directed towards minorities or anyone who’s not a Christian White Male.  White supremacy isn't what my ancestors fought and died for.  I’ve driven all over rural America these past eight months, literally to every corner of America, and have met many wonderful people who were incredibly kind to me – and yet, I knew that many of them probably voted for Donald Trump.  How can I reconcile the kindness I received from these folks while knowing that most of them voted for the most hateful and racist presidential candidate in modern American history?  Would they have been as kind to me if I weren't a white guy, I wondered?  

  • We’re worried about the Constitution and our democracy.  Donald Trump craves absolute power and we worry about our constitutional rights, such as freedom of speech and religion, the right to dissent, freedom of the press and even our right to vote.

  • We’re worried about a president who is easily rattled and angered.  We believe Trump doesn’t have the temperament (or intelligence) to handle the presidency and will act on an impulse with disastrous consequences, for America or the world.

  • But mostly, we’re worried that Donald Trump doesn’t really want to Make America Great Again.  Many of us believe his run for the presidency was just a ploy to satisfy his massive ego and a way to boost his business.  We think he cares more about himself and his business interests than about the millions of hard-working Americans who need a competent and compassionate leader in the White House.

I hope I’m wrong about this and that, four years from now, I’ll look back and realize that these worries were totally unfounded.  I really am pulling for America and its ideals, because like I said at the beginning of my road-trip, I believe the U.S. is the greatest country in the world.  But like millions of other Americans, I worry that a Trump presidency will not end well, either for America or the world. 

Four Years Later

I reread that webpage last week and realized that each of my concerns back in 2016 had come to fruition during the four chaotic years of the Trump presidency.  Most Americans apparently share my attitude because Trump leaves office as not only the lowest-rated president in American history – his job approval rating is just 29% in the final Pew poll, less than half of Barack Obama’s final rating – but he’s also the first president since Herbert Hoover in 1932 who managed to lose the House, the Senate and White House in only one term.  As a growing body of historians agree, Trump was not just the worst president in American history but also the most destructive. 

I believe in a strong two-party system to give voters a choice of different philosophies.  I support many principles of the mainstream Republican party, including fiscal restraint and free trade, and I respected the Republican Party of conservatives like John McCain and Jeff Flake because it was intelligent and reasonable.  And while I've often disagreed politically with mainstream GOP leaders like Mitt Romney, George W. Bush and former Ohio governor, John Kasich, I think they're fine people.  But I don’t recognize this new Republican party that Trump has molded – one of nativism, white supremacy, authoritarianism and wild conspiracy theories like Q-Anon.  Under Trump the GOP has, to put it bluntly, "gone wacko," morphing into the DOP (Delusional Old Party).

 
 
Above:  Watching the results of the 2016 election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in my motel room in Sarasota, Florida.

And what about Donald Trump?  Along with his four years of corruption, incompetence and division – remember the blissful days before Trump when families didn’t argue about politics? – he downplayed the coronavirus pandemic, calling it a “Democratic hoax” at one point.  That was just one of the 30,573 lies he told while president.  The pandemic has now cost the lives of over 400,000 Americans, more cases and deaths by far than any other nation.  In contrast, Australia and New Zealand took the virus seriously and, as I write this, neither country has had a single case (let alone a death) in over a week.  Under Trump's inept leadership, the U.S., which has only 4% of the world’s population, now has over 20% of the world’s Covid-19 deaths and, sadly, what began as “We’re all in this together” in the spring of 2020 rapidly devolved into, “It didn’t have to be this way.” 

To top it off, Trump then disputed the results of the November 2020 election by falsely claiming that he won, using his old “People are saying…” ploy once again to kickstart the issue and get it rolling.  His mantra of “Just Make Stuff Up” became “Heads I win, tails you lose” because, in his warped mind, those were the only possible outcomes of the election.  To overturn the election he filed over 60 court cases, many of which were ruled on by conservative judges he himself had appointed, including at the Supreme Court.  But in every case, including at the Supreme Court, his claim of a “fraudulent election” was soundly rejected.  Even his own Attorney General, William Barr, admitted the 2020 election was fair, while his government cybersecurity experts have called the 2020 election "the most secure in American history."

As my parents once told me, accepting things that are true but which you don’t want to believe is part of growing up.  Donald Trump, however, has never grown up.

But wait, there’s more.  Not done with lying about the election or trampling on our democracy, on January 6 Trump egged on a right-wing mob that attacked the U.S. Capitol.  Equally culpable are the 147 Congressional Republicans who, with no merit, tried to overturn the 2020 election.  I was so angry by that horrific attack that I decided to create this webpage and post some of the searing images of that day so it will never be forgotten.  It was terrible to watch:  terrorists fighting with Capitol Police (killing one police officer, sadly) then carrying Confederate flags and zipties through the Capitol while seeking out lawmakers to harass or kill, many of whom were cowering in fear under desks in their darkened offices.

 


Two Weeks Apart, 

Two Different Visions for America

 

  

January 6, 2020

 

       

January 20, 2020

  
         
 
Donald Trump and Mo Brooks (R-Alabama) inciting followers to attack the U.S. Capitol.  After telling his supporters that "I'll be there with you," and sending the rioters down to the Capitol, Trump scurried back to the safety of the White House.  

 

     
A condensed version of Joe Biden's inauguration speech.  “We’ve learned again that democracy is precious, democracy is fragile, and at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed.”

 

 
         
 
Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) showing solidarity with rioters moments before they attacked the U.S. Capitol and killed a Capitol Police officer.
     
Lady Gaga with a rousing rendition of the National Anthem.  "I felt very, very honored to be there," she said later. "I still feel very honored to have been asked to sing our national anthem." 

 

 
         
 
Disturbing photos from the attack on the U.S.  Capitol.  This was the only time a Confederate flag has been displayed in the U.S. Capitol, let alone carried proudly.
     
America's National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, reciting her speech, "The Hill We Climb" during the inauguration.  The full text is below.

 

 

A Brighter Day

Now, a few weeks after the assault on the Capitol, some Republicans are trying to sweep it under the rug by telling people to just forget about it, as if it never happened.  Even worse, some of them like Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) and the Oregon Republican Party claim that the rioters were actually Democrats dressed up in red MAGA hats and Trump garb (the DOP strikes again!), a ridiculous allegation that the FBI, after arresting and interrogating over 200 Capitol rioters, has vehemently denied. 

I try to avoid discussing politics in my websites, like I say, but that denial of blame by Gaetz and other Trump sycophants was the last straw for me.  Had the Retrumplicans succeeded in overthrowing the 2020 election results – and by a hair's breadth they almost did – they would've likely never ceded power again and our country's long experiment with democracy would be over.  It would be a lot easier (and safer) for me to remain quiet, but I'm a student of history and I know how an autocratic leader with a bit of charisma can quickly rise to power if the masses remain silent, which is what happened in Germany in the 1930s. 

Therefore I decided to create this webpage, "A Brighter Day for America," to bookend my A Sad Day for America entry from 2016 because I don’t want anyone to conveniently forget what happened on January 6, or to forget who incited that insurrection and tried to overthrow our government.  The ringleaders include Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Josh Hawley (R-Missouri), Mo Brooks (R-Alabama), Kevin McCarthy (R-California) and, of course, Donald Trump – who, after telling the mob that he’d march with them down to the Capitol, scampered back to the safety of the White House. 

   

In every court case Donald Trump filed, including at the Supreme Court, his allegation of a "fraudulent election" was soundly rejected.

 
     

January 6 was a terrible day for America.  But two weeks later, on January 20, I watched Joe Biden’s inauguration at the Capitol with his positive message of tolerance, not hate, and of unity, not division.  After watching the events of Inauguration Day – so different than two weeks earlier – I decided to post images of that brighter day to showcase the stark contrast between these two very different visions for our country.  The violent mob that ransacked our Capitol represents everything that is WRONG with America, while the poem that was read during Joe Biden’s inauguration represents what is RIGHT with America. 

As I say, I strongly believe in a two-party system, but we should never elect any Retrumplican to any office, ever again.  Americans should never forget what happened at the Capitol on January 6 or how Donald Trump could spend four years leading his followers down a cultish path of division, chaos and destruction.  But we should also remember what happened at the Capitol on January 20 as our democracy held firm – barely – and as a new administration took the reins and began setting America back on the path of truth, decency and what Abraham Lincoln, on those same Capitol steps in 1861, called “the better angels of our nature.”

With that in mind, I’ve posted here the inaugural poem written by 22-year old Amanda Gorman along with some uplifting video clips from that day.  After four years of darkness, it is indeed a Brighter Day for America.

Choose truth over lies.  Choose decency over hate.  Choose light over darkness.

 


Two Weeks Apart, 

Two Different Visions for America

 

  

January 6, 2020

 

       

January 20, 2020

  
         
 
A reporter's chilling footage from inside the U.S. Capitol siege on January 6.  This clip is from The New Yorker magazine.
     
Jon Bon Jovi singing the Beatles' song, "Here Comes the Sun" during the "Celebrating America" special shown on the evening of Joe Biden's inauguration.

 

 
         
 
A detailed description of the events on January 6 as domestic terrorists stormed the Capitol, from the Washington Post.
     
Demi Lovato singing "Lovely Day" during "Celebrating America."  Her song celebrates Americans from around the country.

 

 
         
 
Matt Gaetz (R-Florida) claiming that many of the Capitol rioters were actually left-wing activists dressed up in Trump garb.  The FBI has arrested over 200 rioters so far and says this allegation is absolutely false.  Once again, JMSU.
     
National Youth Poet Laureate Amanda Gorman in an uplifting interview with Anderson Cooper hours after she recited her poem, "The Hill We Climb" during Joe Biden's inauguration.  I've posted the poem below.
 

 

 

The Hill We Climb

When day comes we ask ourselves,
where can we find light in this never-ending shade?
The loss we carry,
a sea we must wade
We've braved the belly of the beast
We've learned that quiet isn't always peace
And the norms and notions
of what just is
Isn’t always just-ice
And yet the dawn is ours
before we knew it
Somehow we do it
Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn’t broken
but simply unfinished.

We the successors of a country and a time
Where a skinny Black girl
descended from slaves and raised by a single mother
can dream of becoming president
only to find herself reciting for one
And yes we are far from polished
far from pristine
but that doesn’t mean we are
striving to form a union that is perfect
We are striving to forge a union with purpose
To compose a country committed to all cultures, colors,
characters and conditions of man.

And so we lift our gazes not to what stands between us
but what stands before us
We close the divide because we know, to put our future first,
we must first put our differences aside
We lay down our arms
so we can reach out our arms
to one another
We seek harm to none and harmony for all
Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true:
That even as we grieved, we grew
That even as we hurt, we hoped
That even as we tired, we tried
That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious
Not because we will never again know defeat
but because we will never again sow division.

Scripture tells us to envision
that everyone shall sit under their own vine and fig tree
And no one shall make them afraid
If we’re to live up to our own time
Then victory won’t lie in the blade
But in all the bridges we’ve made
That is the promise to glade
The hill we climb.

If only we dare
It's because being American is more than a pride we inherit,
it’s the past we step into
and how we repair it
We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation
rather than share it
Would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy
And this effort very nearly succeeded.

But while democracy can be periodically delayed
it can never be permanently defeated
In this truth
in this faith we trust
For while we have our eyes on the future
history has its eyes on us
This is the era of just redemption
We feared at its inception
We did not feel prepared to be the heirs
of such a terrifying hour
but within it we found the power
to author a new chapter
To offer hope and laughter to ourselves
So while once we asked,
how could we possibly prevail over catastrophe?
Now we assert
How could catastrophe possibly prevail over us?

We will not march back to what was
but move to what shall be
A country that is bruised but whole,
benevolent but bold,
fierce and free
We will not be turned around
or interrupted by intimidation
because we know our inaction and inertia
will be the inheritance of the next generation
Our blunders become their burdens
But one thing is certain:
If we merge mercy with might,
and might with right,
then love becomes our legacy
and change our children’s birthright.

So let us leave behind a country
better than the one we were left with
Every breath from my bronze-pounded chest,
we will raise this wounded world into a wondrous one
We will rise from the gold-limbed hills of the west,
we will rise from the windswept northeast
where our forefathers first realized revolution
We will rise from the lake-rimmed cities of the midwestern states,
we will rise from the sunbaked south
We will rebuild, reconcile and recover
and every known nook of our nation and
every corner called our country,
our people diverse and beautiful will emerge,
battered and beautiful
When day comes we step out of the shade,
aflame and unafraid
The new dawn blooms as we free it
For there is always light,
if only we’re brave enough to see it
If only we’re brave enough to be it.

By Amanda Gorman
National Youth Poet Laureate

 

 
 
 
 

 

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