“There is no necessity to separate the monarch from the mob; all authority is equally bad.” ~ Oscar Wilde
The last four years have been grim for the greater LGBTQI+ community. Trump’s presidency unleashed a seemingly endless barrage of hate-filled attacks, a ban on Trans military service, and potential future legal landmines because of a sycophantic Republican Senate filling the federal court system with jurists who most definitely are intolerant and in many cases not even qualified.
Noting that in fairness- in addition to LGBTQ+ people, intolerant of voting rights for Black Americans, women’s reproductive rights, and immigrants especially those of colour.
This presidential administration was largely comprised of Trump tweeting then rushed reactions by officials to validate and carry out his craven and oft times irresponsible electronic social media executive mandates and madness.
Governance suddenly was based on the whims of a volatile, ignorant and petty tyrant which laid the framework during his last year in office for the disastrous handling of the coronavirus pandemic and the deaths to date of over a quarter of a million Americans.
The First Amendment defenders of the press were denigrated, insulted, labeled ‘Fake News’ and suddenly even found themselves subject to death threats at the worst or serious injuries at the least.
Peaceful protesters found themselves battling not only law enforcement, but elements of white supremacy or hyper nationalists cheered on by Trump in tweet after tweet or in rally after rally or utterances to far-right media. In once case, people were tear-gassed so that Trump could pose for a picture.
Trump attacked immigrants and frankly any group such as Muslims in a blatantly racist way- then when challenged would lie about his actions.
Piece by piece Trump and his cronies and enablers in the Congress dismantled a government that while at times has functioned as a bloated bureaucracy to be certain, nonetheless it manages to deliver its necessary services.
The level of corruptness of Trump administration officials has been frankly breathtaking. Outside of the fact that the president himself was impeached, 8 of his top advisors were convicted of serious crimes and the investigations into the Trump administration produced over 100 charges by federal prosecutors and an additional 34 people charged with serious crimes all directly related to this president.
Trump came promising to drain the swamp instead filling it with billionaire cronies, unqualified administrators for the various agencies and then attacked institutions beloved by many Americans but despised by those on the right who have waited for years to disassemble FDR’s legacy or LBJ’s civil rights accomplishments. Then the all out assault to destroy President Obama’s signature Affordable Care Act that will remove protections and health care for over 20 million Americans. (And without a whit of a plausible replacement plan even in existence.)
Then to ensure a legacy of the intolerance of so-called conservative ‘religious-right’ ideals, Trump and his Senate enablers are leaving behind a Supreme Court with the most conservative majority in decades with a potential to undo the gains of the LGBTQ+ community to include same-sex marriage and the rights of same-sex couples or even single LGBTQ+ people to adopt or foster children.
A majority on the high court that will ensure that Roe v Wade is overturned, and continue to limit the rights of Black voters.
Americans have watched for four years as Trump has blundered with foreign policy by alienating allies. He has cozied up to dictators in Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, North Korea even going so far as to allow the murder of Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian dissident, author, journalist and columnist for The Washington Post.
The list is dizzying and sadly incomplete as a book length accounting would be truly necessary.
The change though that gives one hope is the election of Joe Biden and his running mate Kamala Harris. It gives the American people a cessation in the incessant lying, coded racist rantings, and the parade of attacks spreading divisive rhetoric.
But that renewed sense of hope is also tempered by the reality that an election that saw a record breaking historic number of Americans participate and vote, the fact that 79,887,852 who voted for Biden is overshadowed by the fact that 73,815,488 voted for Trump.
Take a pause for a moment, go back over the first few paragraphs, then reflect on the fact that 73+ million Americans are perfectly happy with those behaviours and particularly, the lying. It doesn’t bother them. That’s actually frightening especially when you observe that instead of conceding the election after Biden’s resounding electoral vote count of 306 to Trump’s 232, he still insists that he will be elected and to that end there have been more lies as he tries to claim fraud and malfeasance in the system. This is dangerous and damaging.
There has been a bright spot of relief for LGBTQ+ people as this election also saw a record number, of over 500 LGBTQ+ Americans elected to all levels of government from local to state houses to the U.S. Congress.
This type of representation is critical along with the out of the gate support given in the acceptance speech the president-elect gave affirming his support and allyship of the LGBTQ+ community.
That said, the cautionary note remains that Trump and his Republican enablers as well as his cronies leave behind the wreckage of a government and worse a divided nation. There’s a great deal of work to repair the damages, still given what would have occurred had he been reelected? One can indeed be thankful.
Brody Levesque is a veteran journalist and the Editor-At-Large of the Los Angeles Blade.
A special editor’s note of gratitude for this week’s cover art by Paul Richmond. He is an internationally recognized visual artist and LGBTQ activist whose career has included exhibitions in galleries and museums throughout the United States. He is also co-founder of the You Will Rise Project, an organization that empowers those who have experienced bullying to speak out creatively through art. Richmond and his husband reside in Monterrey, California.