Back in November, I was watching the reaction to Trump’s election win and had thought about writing a reaction to the reaction, noting how asymmetrical it was. Trump supporters continued to berate Hillary, demand her imprisonment, bad-mouthing Obama and Democrats in general. While most Trump opponents, if you were watching TV and not reading your Facebook feed, were instead calming talking about giving the President-Elect a chance and asking Trump aides to stop fighting the war they already won. It seemed like conservatives were most patriotic about the military or about their guys being in charge, while liberals were most patriotic about making our democracy work for everyone. It was definitely not balanced.
Then liberals got even. They claimed vote-rigging, even when there was little proof (although Putin and Comey did interfere inn the campaigns). They threatened to vote-shame coal miners by blocking a bill to extend their health insurance. They staged protests and lead futile efforts to get the Electoral College to be faithless to both Hillary and Trump.
And conservatives will get even with a Cabinet that is both the richest and least qualified in history. They will replace Antonin Scalia with some younger, more ideological, and less committed to legal scholarship. They will eliminate health insurance for millions to finance the biggest tax cuts for the rich in our history.
And in 2018, we get another battle in our brewing Cold Civil War, with little opportunity to bring out the better angels in our nature.
Obama was flawed, and left his party in the worst shape since Reconciliation. But he and his family gave us 8 years of decency, hard-work, incremental progress, and proof that politics and scandal are not inherently mixed. His Administration extended health insurance to those who were denied or could not afford it. He delivered a recovery from the worst recession since the Depression, with not a single Republican vote. He and the Supreme Court reduced discrimination and ushered in marriage equality. He drew down 2 wars, saw the Arab Spring, and brought Osama bin Laden to justice. He may not have “stopped the oceans from rising,” but the Obama Years were better than we might have thought when we were living through them, and in the next 4 years, we may just realize how unfortunate it is we don’t elect Presidents by popular vote or through ranked-choice elections.
Still, we survived the war-mongering, unethical and ideological Dubya years. Surely we don’t all need to move to Canada just because Trump is now our President. Right? He’s surprised us all in the last 18 months. Maybe he’ll surprise us again.