He may have gotten the official votes back in January 2017 when the Congress certified the votes of the Electoral College for the 2016 election. He may have taken the oath of office on January 20, 2017. He may have been given the little card with the nuclear codes that he carries with him all the time. He may have been given living space in the residence quarters of the White House and moved his staff into the West Wing and sat behind the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, flown on the big plane, ridden in the armored limousine, and heard the band play his song. But he was never really our president.
He only thought about the people who voted for him or shared his views. He dismissed out of hand any contrary arguments or discussion, convinced that he was always right and infallible. Anyone who had a different idea or wouldn’t proclaim loudly their fealty to him was suspect and not to be trusted. That works in a government of fear and oppression, where dissent is not allowed. (Ironically, he appealed to and won the votes of a lot of Cuban-Americans in South Florida who fled that kind of government to come here.) He made it his mission to separate us based on fear of others, knowing that it would solidify his base and shore up his own belief in himself and appealing to the base human instinct of what’s in it for himself.
I’m not a psychologist, and I look askance at those who presume to diagnose from afar. But as a playwright and a theatre scholar, I have a perspective on how characters are built and what lies beneath their outer actions. It doesn’t require a PhD to see that we’re dealing with someone who has serious issues with their own self-worth and how desperate they are to win approval, and how they will lash out at those they think are smarter than them or have a natural ability to get people to like them, much less agree with them. Simply put, he’s a quivering tower of massive insecurity and self-doubt. Sophocles, Shakespeare, and any number of playwrights throughout history understood it, and it’s safe to say that this kind of character provides for powerful theatre and insight to the human condition.
That makes great drama, but that’s not the way to run a country. We need — we require — leaders who seek the office not for the trappings, not for the adoring crowds and the rallies, but to work for all of us.
President-elect Biden has said repeatedly that he will be the president of all of us. It shouldn’t have to be said that the person we elect as the president has to think of all of us, including those who fought against their election and disagree with them at every level. But apparently it does, and it appears that there are over 70 million people who need to learn that basic fact of how our system works. It’s a rather sad comment on how far the current office-holder has brought us that we have to say it out loud.