As the expression goes, Donald Trump was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. With his penchant for spectacular confabulations, however, he might instead say he was born an inch away from home plate and was sure he invented baseball.
Trump has always held a winning lottery ticket. He is a white male from a wealthy family in a country that has long prized whiteness, masculinity, and wealth above all things.
In his 2016 election run, Trump got a lot of mileage out of never admitting mistakes, never apologizing, and always offering a bonkers rebuttal to change any subject. Technically, one can never lose with that strategy—outside of a courtroom, at least—and Trump kept winning. He might have even believed it when he promised his supporters they were gonna win so much, they’d get sick of winning.
Either way, he was right.
When Trump won in 2016, all the Clinton voters rabidly awaiting the chance to tweet “Loser” or “You’re Fired” at Trump had to just let their disdain fester. He was a winner, and an achingly sore one at that—forever showing off his electoral map to anyone who would look, and making up lies to explain away his decisive loss of the popular vote.
In the years that followed, Trump lost a lot of battles. His Muslim-targeting travel ban ultimately failed, despite several attempts. His wall on the southern border was never built, and the parts of it that were certainly weren’t financed by Mexico, as promised. He couldn’t repeal the Affordable Care Act. And most recently, he couldn’t stop coronavirus from ravaging the country or even the White House or his own body. (Late on Friday, November 6, the New York Times reported that yet another coronavirus outbreak is currently underway at the White House, with Chief of Staff Mark Meadows at its center.)
Through it all, however, Trump won simply by dint of surviving to lie another day. He refused to be taken down by the kind of scandals that would beset a normal presidency. He survived the revelation that he’d bribed porn star Stephanie Clifford with hush money during the 2016 election to keep quiet about their extramarital affair. He survived a special investigation into his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian election interference. Hell, he even easily wriggled his way out of an impeachment that practically nobody remembers.
Factor in the three Supreme Court Justices on the bench, hundreds of other questionably talented judicial appointees Mitch McConnell pushed through, and one tax cut for billionaires, and Trump objectively remained a winner.
Then the 2020 election happened.
Because of the threat of COVID-19, there were more mail-in ballots this year than ever before, and a slower-than-usual tallying process. But now, a winner has finally, finally been confirmed, and it is Joe Biden.
Although Democrats lost some House seats and have not taken back the Senate, Biden’s electoral college victory, combined with the largest number of votes ever received by a presidential candidate, marks an unmistakable repudiation of Trump and Trumpism. For the first time since the 2016 election, there is no way he can lie, ignore, or spin away this outcome.
The verdict is in: Donald Trump is a loser.
I’m going to type it again, since I was one of the people waiting to tweet that word at Trump in 2016 and never had the chance.
Donald Trump is a loser. Big league! The first one-term president in 28 years.
Sure, he got more than 70 million people to vote for him a second time, and Mitch McConnell will likely remain the leader of a GOP-majority Senate, and it will take years, possibly decades, to hose Trump’s stench off of America. But the good news is it’s really happening and the hosing starts right now.
Donald Trump is a loser. Say it out loud. Let those words fill the air. Feel the weight of their truth.
Don’t let anyone tell you that the lack of a tsunami-level blue wave in Senate races diminishes this victory. Along with Trump’s loss, we will also be losing so much more.
Here are some things, in no particular order, that America will now be rid of as a direct result of Donald Trump being the loser that he is. (What a loser!)
We will lose the fascist cruelty of Stephen Miller, specifically in regards to Trump’s child separation policy at the southern border. While this administration’s strategy over the past couple of years has been to deflect blame by pointing out that Obama made the cages that Trump put separated kids in, Biden will undoubtedly favor non-barbaric policies, even if he doesn’t create a perfect solution right away.
We will lose the white supremacy whataboutism and both-sides-ing that for four years has slithered out of the highest office in the country, making racists feel happy, comfortable, and validated every step of the way.
We will lose the international idea that America is a lost cause—again—and possibly work toward rehabilitating our reputation. (To be fair, we have much to make up for that has nothing to do with Trump.)
Yeah, we foisted Trump upon ourselves, and damn near did it again, but make no mistake, this election handily proves to the world that there are more Americans against Trump—at least four million—than there are for him.
We will lose our denial of climate change. We’ve had four years that the world couldn’t afford to waste, in which the president plugged his ears to scientific consensus on the topic. The Biden presidency will restore U.S. participation in the Paris climate accord, and hopefully work toward making as much of the Green New Deal a reality as possible. (There’s a certain amount of wishful thinking here, but if ever there were a moment for wishful thinking, it’s now.)
We will lose the conversations about the wall. Will he build it? Will he be thwarted? Is Steve Bannon going to jail over it? All of this becomes moot as this costly xenophobic symbol gets tossed on America’s ideological scrap heap. (For now, at least.)
We will lose the top-down politicization of the pandemic. Instead, the government will actually promote science and mask safety, and stop constantly downplaying the danger of coronavirus in nihilistic pursuit of herd immunity. The new administration will no longer contort policy into a shape that flatters the president’s whims, which are unmoored from facts. Rather, Biden will follow through on what Trump recently accused him of: listening to scientists.
We will lose the Trump-dominated news cycle. No matter what happens, he will continue to talk a lot, and at least 70 million voters will continue to be interested in what he has to say. But the difference is that whatever drivel spews out of his gaping zero-shaped maw now will no longer be news because the President won’t have said it.
We will lose the distrust of official government announcements. Each new dispatch from the White House or one of its departments will no longer be a wildly partisan and often antagonistic missive about Trump’s inherent greatness.
We will lose spite as the prevalent motivating force among the ruling half of the country. Donald Trump Jr. said it best recently, at one of his father’s final campaign rallies, when he urged all attendees to vote in order to “make liberals cry again.” The entire Trump presidency appeared to run on the principle that whatever repudiates Obama and owns the libs is a worthwhile pursuit unto itself. Although conservatives will not like whatever a Biden administration does, they will hopefully be able to see that it’s being done for reasons other than a malicious intent to trigger the opposition.
We will lose loyalty to the president as the biggest employment qualification in the White House. Instead of “the best people,” which is what Trump promised, he hired a string of future felons and scandal-makers and pseudodoctors with supervillain names who endorsed Trump’s warped vision of coronavirus as not all that serious. Some of Biden’s hiring decisions will surely be infuriating—ahoy, Cindy McCain and Quibi CEO Meg Whitman—but they will not be brought on to answer the question: “Who is unscrupulous enough to do my bidding and keep my secrets?”
We will lose “alternative facts” as a concept. We will lose Kayleigh McEnany and Kellyanne Conway and everyone else who aggressively parrots every Trump lie to the public. We’ll also lose alternative streams of information in the White House, fact-fudging reports from Breitbart and Fox News and OANN taking precedence over presidential briefings, along with so many conspiracy theories whispered into the president’s ear from in-house Iagos.
We will lose the idea that the media is an opposition party to Donald Trump, once the press chronicles every mistake Biden makes, alongside the things he gets right. With enough unflattering reports, perhaps some Trump supporters might even realize in retrospect that much of the negative media coverage Trump received came less from the Trump-Hating Fake News Media than “accurate reporting of what transpired.”
We will lose Trump as a negative role model for children and adults. Despite Melania Trump’s anti-cyberbullying campaign, her husband has shown Americans that if you act like a big enough a-hole and never wonder if you might be wrong, you can triumph in any situation. It will take years to assess the trickle down effect of his piss-poor behavior. We may never know the degree to which Americans have subconsciously absorbed Trump’s antagonism and mirrored it in their daily lives. Trump will still be on terrible display wherever he goes now, whether it’s on his own TV network or, God forbid, back on the campaign trail for the 2024 presidential election. But he will do so as a rejected president.
We will lose Trump’s sense of infallibility. Throughout his improbably lucky life, Trump has scarcely faced a consequence. Because Republicans have been eager to keep him in power, he has governed as someone who could and does and always will get away with anything. After a while, it felt pointless even to mention when Trump violated the Hatch Act for the umpteenth time by using his office for political gain. What is the opposition going to do, impeach him? (Again?)
But Trump has been able to get away with everything throughout his life and career only because he has never been investigated with the scrutiny that comes with a presidency. As The New Yorker reports, Trump is now at the center of dozens of investigations and lawsuits that will take on a new dimension without the presumption of immunity that comes with being president. Social media platforms will have to treat him as just another public figure and not a head of state. The investigations will keep coming—hopefully, there will be a big one around Trump’s catastrophic coronavirus response—and Trump may be too tied up in court appointments to effectively campaign for office in 2024.
The last thing we will lose, though, is the daily gaslighting—the insistence on an alternate reality that all those alternate facts reinforce.
For years, many of us have pointed out when Trump says something demonstrably false, only for Trump and his supporters to respond by insisting that, no, it’s actually true, and we are Fake and Bad for even suggesting otherwise. This moment may not bring all of that to heel—some of Trump’s 70 million supporters will continue defending him until the end of days—but Trump’s false interpretation of reality no longer stands as America’s official position.
Republicans in power used to put up a unified front to protect Trump’s alternate reality, but that is no longer tenable. A rift is now wending its way between those on the right who are willing to acknowledge the facts of this election, like Laura Ingraham, one of Trump’s toughest soldiers on Fox News, and those like Ted Cruz who are committed to the usual lie that it’s all an elaborate conspiracy against Mr. Trump.
The legitimacy of Biden’s win is undeniable, given that it follows the most heavily and transparently monitored election in modern history. Trump’s charges of voter fraud carry a burden of proof that ordinarily he can get around. His everyday lies are not cross-examined. They just persist, with some of us knowing that they’re lies, and the rest of the country either pretending otherwise or actually believing them. This time, however, he needs to furnish actual proof in order to continue being president, and he can’t.
He can lie about it, and he has, and he will continue to lie about it some more, but this election win is airtight, and conspiracy theory-proof.
If such a thing can happen, what else can happen? If even Laura Ingraham can acknowledge that there was no voter fraud, despite Trump’s insistence, what other Trumpian perversions of reality will she have to admit are lies? Will we get some retroactive retractions? And the people who called out Trump’s lies for years, only to be called liars in return, should they expect an apology? (Don’t hold your breath.)
For the first time in four years, it seems possible that we could all live in a shared reality again, starting with a majority of Americans conceding that this election result doesn’t have two sides. I encourage those Americans to go a step further, though, and concede that reality only ever has one side, the right side, and that Donald Trump has rarely been on it.
What a loser.