The Longest Breakup: When Will Trump Finally Be Out of Our Lives?
This week, America is in limbo and the hosts of democracy-ish are just as pissed off as they’ve ever been.
Biden’s election victory is crystal-clear, but Trump and his enablers continue to sow doubt in the media, file lawsuits and obstruct the transition.
Meanwhile, as winter (and the holiday season) approaches, the COVID crisis worsens.
Lame-duck Trump isn’t doing much these days, besides threatening a war with Iran. Is he deliberately creating new challenges for Biden?
Two weeks on from Election Day, the incoming Biden administration should be getting intelligence briefings, hiring staff and coordinating with hundreds of federal agencies for a seamless, peaceful transition of power. And the rest of us should be looking forward to a long Thanksgiving weekend and traveling to gather with family and friends.
Unfortunately, it’s 2020 in Trump’s America, and that’s not happening. The COVID-19 virus continues to spread at an alarming rate in nearly every state. U.S. deaths surpassed 250,000 –– a grim milestone barely acknowledged by the current government.
“I would rather skip in-person Thanksgiving than go to a virtual funeral,” Toure says.
At the same time, the president refuses to concede or cooperate with Biden and his team. No surprise there, but we weren’t expecting the leader of the General Services Administration to bend to his will.
But winter is coming and we need leadership more than ever.
“I'm angry with so many people this week,” says Toure. “We have a president talking about conspiracy theories and bullshit to the very end.”
Even so, Biden’s victory just becomes more certain. Georgia just certified its recount and judges across the country are rejecting Trump’s desperate lawsuits.
But “instead of celebrating our win as a nation, we have to deal with a petulant fucking child whose tantrum is going to cost American lives,” Danielle says.
Episode Highlights –– America’s Stalker
COVID, COVID everywhere
Danielle recently discussed the pandemic with Dr. Jonathan Metzl on her show “Woke AF” where he explained that COVID is more of a threat in cold weather. The virus itself is better able to survive outside a body and linger in the air.
And of course, in the late fall and winter, we’re more likely to be indoors.
Now, “because America did a shit job –– actually, no job at all –– managing the coronavirus, now the air literally is filled with it,” says Danielle.
That's why scientists are recommending new (or renewed) restrictions on indoor dining and group gatherings.
If everybody wore masks and got COVID tests, “maybe we would be in a different situation for the holidays,” she adds. “But that’s not the case and the numbers are increasingly worse every single day.”
Now, the Trump administration claims it will distribute the vaccine within a few weeks. But that's not what Moderna, Pfizer or any of the other vax manufacturers have said.
“And I'm telling you, that vaccine coming out of the Trump administration with their hands on it, no,” Danielle says. “Hard no.”
Weapons of maskless destruction
“It's a real shame the right has politicized this the way it has,” says Toure. “Because now we need more extreme measures of protecting ourselves and each other.”
Not wearing masks somehow became “about freedom and masculinity, how tough and strong you are, owning the libs and giving a middle finger to the left,” he adds. “It's all going to just make all this much harder for everyone.”
He points to the New York state congressman from Staten Island bragging on Twitter about his plans for a big old-fashioned family Thanksgiving in defiance of Gov. Cuomo’s restrictions on gatherings of more than 10 people.
It wasn’t that long ago, Toure notes, that a “super-spreader wedding in Maine” led to scores of COVID infections and the deaths of seven people who didn’t even attend the cursed nuptials. Even if you think you’re young, strong and blessed with a robust immune system, you’re “making choices that can affect people you don't even know,” he says.
“It's such an extraordinary disgrace,” says Danielle. “When these people use their Bible for some bullshit, I'm saying to myself, whatever happened to ‘love thy neighbor?’”
‘Choice’ words: IDGAF
What annoys her the most are the anti-maskers who attend rallies with signs that read my body, my choice.
“If I decided to have an abortion, that doesn't fucking affect you, but you deciding not to wear a mask can kill me. Or kill your husband, your wife, your kid or your grandmother.”
Republicans’ idea of freedom “is about their freedom to oppress other people –– their freedom to harm others. Just to say I don't give a fuck.”
“But I don't know why we would expect any different from a country that developed its values from saying we all need to pull ourselves up individually by our bootstraps. That everything that you've ever gotten, has been on your own.”
“We are not a community-based culture.”
In places like Italy and Spain, even though they’ve been hit hard by COVID, “care for their elderly and their neighbors” and make nationwide decisions that reflect it, she adds.
“We don't have that here in America. That’s not who we are.”
As our hosts recorded this episode, General Services Administration head Emily Murphy was still refusing to officially launch the presidential transition process, which does nothing for Trump besides hamper his successor’s pandemic response.
“This person of no character is refusing to sign the paperwork; to stand up and do what's right,” says Toure. “How does she sleep at night? Does she not think about history remembering her as a person of cowardice, who purposefully did nothing … and thus facilitated an untold number of people getting sick and dying. Because she was afraid of –– what? Trump tweeting about her?”
Trump’s enablers “don't care about how history will remember them,” says Danielle. They don't teach history. They don't care about it. They don't fucking read. And frankly, America has a memory the width of a gnat's.”
Murphy says she is operating according to precedent. But the precedent she’s using is the 2000 election –– which came down to a 537-vote margin in just one state: Florida.
“When she says she's using precedent, she is using bullshit,” Danielle argues. “We are talking about hundreds of thousands of votes, with a difference of tens of thousands in five different states. This is not even close.”
Biden on Trump: Forgive … and regret?
Regardless of lawsuits, obstruction by our own government and Trump’s empty threats, Danielle wants the Biden-Harris team to take action now.
“Every day they wait for Republicans to act better is risking American lives, whether it be with the coronavirus or the fact Trump is getting ready to start a war with Iran. Fucking Pompeo is in Israel and Palestine right now. Why the fuck you there?”
In light of recent reporting that Biden plans to entrust his Attorney General with decisions about whether to investigate or prosecute Trump and those around him, Toure thinks Biden’s team will be, “for lack of a better word, forgiving.”
He’s disappointed about that: “I understand he wants unity, to move past this. But I don't think it’s right.”
“If we do not handle the criminal nature of this administration and hold these people accountable, then [Biden and his team] might as well not set foot in the White House. Because what comes after Donald Trump is going to be slicker, smarter and a fuck lot more eloquent than Trump is. Which will make that person 10 times more dangerous.”
Toure thinks that’s “absolutely right.” He’s terrified of somebody who is likable and/or seemingly intelligent but equally “untethered from reality, mired in these conspiracy theories, yet able to manipulate the levers of government.”
If that happened, we’d be powerless as a nation that’s at least half-full of “conscious morons deeply in the grip of the lies, the bubble, the bullshit.”
There are no facts in a right-wing information bubble
The notion that liberals and conservatives exist in their own bubbles is inherently flawed, he argues. The right-wing bubble is a world where climate change isn't real, immigrants are streaming across the border and taking our jobs and COVID is a hoax. It’s also a bubble in which Trump won –– whether or not he is inaugurated again.
“All of that is unhinged from reality,” says Toure. “There's nothing I believe as a progressive, as a liberal, as a Democrat, that a community of experts says is just not true.”
Those experts don’t include noted mask denier Dr. Scott Atlas, who urges Michigan to “rise up” against COVID restrictions and thinks holiday hosts should plan to party like it’s 2019.
“I don't know what the fuck he's the doctor of,” Danielle, noting that this brand of denial dates back to the beginning of Trump’s administration, when Kellyanne Conway cited alternative facts and Giuliani claimed truth is not truth.
The ‘disease of left-wing media’
Some may say MSNBC or CNN are “just doing the same thing as Fox, but from the left,” Toure points out. “Not even close. To align CNN, MSNBC and Fox is akin to aligning the Lakers, the Clippers and the Globetrotters. We are playing different games.”
Claiming otherwise “lets Fox off the hook,” he adds. “Its destabilization of the media is part of what leads to truth decay. It's extremely dangerous for our country.”
Danielle and Toure agree that the media is partly to blame –– specifically its obsession with what they call both-sides-ism.
Toure sees it as “really a disease of left-wing media. To be seen as even-handed is to be seen as above at all, as objective, to be doing your job the right way.”
He thinks 2016 was a shock to the system for many in the media.
“It was very humbling –– and traumatizing because we think, of course we have our finger on the pulse of the country. We fly around, talk to lots of people, we get it. Trump’s election made us think we don't.”
And so, in the interest of fairness, many journalists go overboard by giving equal airtime to Trumpers and *cough* those who speak truth. They end up amplifying the right wing’s lies for the sake of having two sides to every story.
“There are not two sides to climate change,” says Danielle. “You either want to die in a fiery mess in California, watch the glaciers fall off in Greenland, or witness a Hurricane Maria and a Hurricane Katrina 10 times over or you don't.”
Anxiety or bigotry?
Economic anxiety was the hot topic in 2016, but there wasn’t much conversation about poor Black or Latinx people.
In the media’s effort to understand Trumpers –– what they think, what they fear, what makes them tick –– “are they complicating an issue that was never really that complicated?” Danielle asks. “Or it is just racism, which is actually very simple?”
Toure does see some people in the media who recognize that racism is the core issue. But among many white journalists, explaining the world that way is a “frightening concept, a foreign concept,” he says.
“But I'm supposed to believe economic anxiety is real,” Danielle replies.
Senior-itis in the Oval Office
Meanwhile, America has “no president” right now, says Toure. “Biden is being blocked. And Trump has checked out. He's talking about starting a war with Iran. But for the most part, he's really not doing anything. It's kind of bizarre.”
It makes Danielle think of her teenage years.
“Remember senior year of high school, when you were already accepted to college and there was like a month left, so you were just like, fuck it, I don't need to go to class?”
That's what Trump is doing right now, she says.
“He has 60-some-odd days left and he's hiding in the basement of the White House. He’s on Twitter, eating fucking McDonald's, like, I don't have to do this job.”
Horror movie > waking nightmare
Even so, Danielle is worried we are only “partway through the middle of this horror flick” and that Trump and the Republicans will try to “blow up this country on their way out the door.”
They’re setting up Biden and Harris for a “fucking nightmare” in January, she adds.
“We are dealing with a pandemic, an economic crisis ... potential war. We also know we're not going to get any policy path or relief packages, if we don't win the two very difficult Senate seats in Georgia to take the gavel out of Mitch McConnell's hands.”
For years, the media has claimed Trump is holding the Republican Party hostage.
“But the thing that people fail to understand is that Republicans are Trump, Trump is the Republicans.”
Republicans have had ample to back away from Trump in the wake of Biden’s victory, she adds. But they won’t, because it would mean losing their grip on power.
Our nation’s abusive ex
The reason why the hosts of democracy-ish, and pretty much everyone who’s progressive, urged America to turn out in record numbers –– for a landslide “too big to rig” –– is because “we knew they were going to be litigious,” says Danielle.
“America did its job. People risked their lives to vote. And those counting the votes risked their lives to do an extraordinary thing. We've never had 100 million people vote before election day.”
She wonders when we can finally, truly celebrate –– and relax.
“Are we waiting for December 14? January 20? What's the magic date? When we can start to think about the American people instead of thinking about Donald Trump?”
Toure thinks that, in spite of the fact electoral college certification (in December) would be the deadline for any election tomfoolery, we won’t be that lucky.
“Brionna Keeler on CNN had me rolling when she was like, he seems like somebody who has been dumped but won't accept the breakup.”
Trump’s refusal to accept his loss is “like stalking at this point,” he adds.
“Trump is America's stalker. Omigod, that's the best,” says Danielle.
Democracy: long and tough as Cardi’s nails
On that note, and considering that Trump won’t likely attend the inauguration, Toure asks: “When does he leave the White House? Does he go to Mar-a-Lago for Christmas or Thanksgiving and just never return? Is he there on the morning of January 20, in the Oval Office pouting until the last second?”
Danielle is certain of one thing.
“We're going to see pictures of Biden and Harris with their hands on the Bible, with a split-screen of Donald Trump being pulled out of the White House.”
Incredulously, Toure asks: “Do you really think the Secret Service will have to extract him?”
That’s exactly what she thinks.
“That motherfucker ain't leaving. We're all going to be shocked and surprised on Inauguration Day.”
Toure is giddy at the prospect: “That's my dream –– seeing him forcibly removed from the White House on any day, much less Inauguration Day. It’s all I want from 2021. Then we’ll know we’ve started a good year.”
“Light a candle,” Danielle responds.
We'll be back next week –– and hopefully, we won’t be in a new, last-minute war of Trump’s making.
“Democracy clings by its fingernails to the edge of the cliff,” says Toure.
Danielle isn’t so sure.
“I hope democracy’s got nails like Cardi B's, so that shit can hold on.”
Get your weekly rundown of the presidential election from a Black progressive point of view on democracy-ish. Consider Danielle Moodie and Toure as your tour guides, flight attendants and/or therapists as we move through this dumpster fire of an election cycle — together!