An old saying about politicians leaving office is “when you’re out, you’re out.” It means whatever power or influence you may have had while holding office disappears when you leave office. While they might stick your name on a plaque or your picture on a stamp or wall somewhere, for the most part whatever moment you had to strut and play your part on the big stage is over when the curtain falls.
We are at that moment this week in Washington, D.C., with the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as our next president and vice-president. Regardless of any attempts at a Million Moron March to protest the outcome, the Electoral College tally has been certified by Congress and Donald J. Trump is not only out as president, but leaves with the historic infamy of being the only president to be impeached twice. And last week’s impeachment was especially biting since it was for “inciting insurrection” against the very country he promised to “make great again.”
Regardless of the despicable act he’s thrown since the election — and the countless lies by which he deceived millions of supporters — nothing will change the fact that this particular surreality TV show is over, the second season having been canceled by the American people at the ballot box.
Adding to the ignominy of having to haul a president out of the White House kicking and screaming is the harsh reality that the tables of power have now been flipped for President Trump. For four years he threatened, denigrated and insulted members of Congress — including the leadership from his own Republican Party — as subservient to his every demand. No longer, however, since his fate, including conviction for inciting insurrection, resides with those same people he has treated like dirt while playing king.
The power of the veto no longer hangs over their heads like the Sword of Damocles. There is no threat of a presidential Twitter storm to derail re-election. In fact, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Senate majority leader who has been unflinchingly loyal to Trump, has had it with Donald Trump. The two men have not spoken since December and McConnell, while not yet pledging to vote for impeachment in the Senate, isn’t lifting a finger to defend Trump. Quite the opposite, his statement condemning the storming of the Capitol was clear and concise — “enough is enough is enough.” And McConnell having just been re-elected to another six-year term, there’s nothing Trump can do to threaten McConnell’s political future.
Thankfully, in spite of Trump’s utterly despicable efforts to cripple the incoming administration in every way possible, President-elect Biden is moving ahead aggressively to confront the almost unimaginable mountain of very serious problems the outgoing administration leaves behind in its vast wake of incompetency.
Make no mistake, all Americans must now “put their shoulders to the wheel” to address the terrifying crises facing our nation. True patriots will not flinch from doing what must be done for the good of our country, our states and our fellow citizens in this, the hour of our greatest need.
Joe Biden has already rolled out his plan to vaccinate the population, address the deepening economic impacts with federal support and deal with the worsening climate crisis. Unlike his predecessor, he is dedicated to help those most in need — not those most in greed. Future generations are relying on us to leave them a livable world and we must rise to the challenge. As for his benighted predecessor — well, as the old saying goes, “when you’re out, you’re out.”
George Ochenski writes from Helena. Starting today, his column will appear on most Mondays in The Montana Standard.