Former Guy

Ordinary food is delectable ambrosia to the starving. We’ve forgotten what it was like for the President of the United States and his party to respond to political disparagement with unmerited compassion and generosity. For example, while politicians like Texas Governor Greg Abbott gripe gracelessly to Sean Hannity about the Green New Deal and why the Texas climate disaster is somehow the fault of Democrats and the new administration, the President is declaring Texas a major disaster and working feverishly to get FEMA relief to the desperate people of the state. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has raised two million dollars for the freezing denizens of Texas, and Beto O’Rourke oversaw a phone bank that made nearly a million contacts with assistance and good advice for the elderly of the state.

How things have changed in a month. It’s hard to believe, but Saturday really does mark just one full month since Joe Biden took back the government and returned it to the American people. It’s as if we have been plucked from a desert in which we’ve wandered for four desperate years with little water and less food, given a good night’s sleep and treated to a banquet. No more rage tweets, no more lying, no more despicable press secretaries, no more gun-toting, red-hatted, sieg heiling Nuremberg-style rallies, no more pardons and praise for evil people, no more lame excuses and buck-passing blame for failures, no more endless crowing and credit-taking for the work of others, just peace and healing and blessed relief where and when it’s needed. The American government is working again and it’s too busy helping people to stop and brag about it.

“The former guy,” as the President calls him, is reduced to superfluity. His Twitter gone, his power gone, his followers dispersed, he sits and stews in the despair of irrelevance. The narcissistic short-fingered vulgarian, the petty, vindictive, little, ridiculous man is now a nothing with nothing left to show for his misbegotten presidency except a mountain of civil and criminal trouble rolling its way toward him like a tsunami, rolling to where he is now, in the words of Shakespeare, “Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.”

I cannot believe that evil thing was ever president of the United States. Speaking as someone who has survived not one but two malignant narcissists, the last four years for me were a personal nightmare writ large. But the worst part of the nightmare of malignant narcissists is their codependents, their enablers, the people who gladly lend their voices and influence and power to the force of their evil. Four years ago I would have never guessed there were so many such people in the world. Now I see how naive I was, and how truly prevalent the lovers of evil are.

Back in the good old days it was easy to think of people as basically good. I now see the truth, and the truth is that some are but many aren’t. Former Guy (I can’t bring myself to write his name just now) brought the evil that was hiding all along to the fore. He created a world where it was safe for them to rise up and dance in the streets where before they hid and glowered in darkness. He told them they weren’t just okay but they were right, that their evil was really goodness and he had come to lift them up into the night and howl alongside them.

The howl of triumph has become the whimper of agony and evil has slid back into its hole once again to glower from the cover of darkness. Our generation is privileged in a way. We’ve seen what evil really looks like, where it lurks and how to keep it there. We now understand that this isn’t just politics but a delineation, a demarcation, an old-fashioned line in the sand between the forces of good and the forces of evil. It looks almost comic book absurd to write it down on the page, but we have looked evil in the face and lived to tell about it. Above all, we have triumphed over it.

Behind our triumph lives a cautionary tale. We can’t let evil come back, because every time it does it returns that much stronger. It was only six years between the resignation of Richard Nixon and twelve years of Republican hegemony. Yet even that form of the gathering evil seems tame compared to what that evil has grown up to be.

Some Republicans have now proclaimed that Former Guy finally went too far. Don’t believe them. They are momentarily frightened of the thing they have become. But they knew all along what they were supporting. They created it with their greed and their hatred and the worst of human impulses unleashed without regard for the destruction and misery it would cause. We must never trust them again, and we must do everything in our collective strength to keep them from returning to power. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.

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