This week we are inaugurating a president who has received a historic number of votes, winning by a staggering seven million. We are inaugurating a brilliant woman of color as his Vice President.
Together, they have assembled the most diverse Administration this nation has ever seen, one that for the first time is beginning to accurately reflect the nation it will serve and represent.
81 million Americans should be able to rejoice in these days, but we cannot.
This should be a moment of collective jubilation, but it is not. We should all be exhaling now but we are not able to. We should be celebrating — but we cannot do that.
We cannot, because the violence generated by an outgoing president and his complicit party – who have for the first time in our history refused a peaceful transition of power, is so pervasive and threatening, that our nation’s Capitol is a literal war zone, that state capitols around the nation are boarded up and closing down, that there is razor wire around surrounding the Inauguration, that members of our government are wearing bullet-proof vests.
We cannot revel in the results of a free and fair election, in the Democratic process working, in our shared efforts in this sacred American experiment—because we are too busy attending to the PTSD of watching a less-than-two-week-old mass assassination attempt by a political party and wondering what horror is coming next. We’ve endured pre-emptive election sabotage and post-election recounts and lawsuits and a failed bloody coup—and still, we aren’t allowed to rest in those many victories.
We cannot enjoy these moments with our friends and our families and our children, because we’re still trying to process a group of politicians helping their rabid base plan and execute a murderous terrorist attack on the Nation’s Capitol in an effort to kidnap and kill members of Congress—all because they’re unhappy that their gerrymandering, voter suppression, and outright corruption didn’t overcome the votes of the people.
Our arriving joy is tempered by seeing a party still inexplicably doubling down in the wake of unfathomable violence, by perpetuating their defeated president’s big lie—knowing it will surely incite more brutality; that it is directly placing public servants, law enforcement officers, and ordinary citizens in harm’s way.
We will not get to have the cathartic, public, unfettered happiness that his supporters had after the 2016 election and on the day of the 2017 Inauguration, because they are not able to consent to that; because they are a people so collectively afflicted with enmity that they cannot allow it. Denying other people’s joy and causing them pain is all they understand and all their president has nurtured in them, and the sole cause they are truly devoted to.
So, this week we will scrape the BidenHarris2020 stickers off our cars to reduce the chance we will be assaulted by a stranger, we will hold our collective breath until the very millisecond the oaths of office are complete, and we will pray that the violence the outgoing president and his sycophantic supporters have trafficked in to this point will not scar this moment further.
Yes, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will be sworn in and they will take office and begin to course-correct this nation. And yes, in the coming days we will find ourselves slowly breathing again and gradually welcoming normalcy and eventually being surprised by the corporate peace that will come from having human adult leaders with working empathy again.
But we will all have been robbed of this singular glorious moment to simply feel lightness again, because the darkness refuses to let us. This will be a celebration delayed and diluted, and we will have it. We will see the America that can be rising up from the America that is.
But the fact that more than 81 million of us have to be terrified of our neighbors right now when we should be simply joyful, is a sad indictment of the people who voted for this defeated fraud and of the nation we have become under him.
The original version of this Op Ed was published on johnpavlovitz.com