For millions of people in America and around the world, the departure of a White House wannabe autocrat who spent four years living inside everybody's head means the end of a long nightmare.
But Joe Biden's inauguration on Wednesday
will be a day of dispossession for millions more Americans who saw Trump as a lone leader who voiced their fear that the modern world scorns their religion, culture, livelihoods and patriotism.
When people look at Trump and say, "This is not America," they are wrong. His presidency personified a gap between America's liberal, urban, multiracial citizens and their White, rural, conservative counterparts. And his great sin as President was that he didn't try to build common bonds and language between an internally estranged people. Instead, he exploited the divide.
These facts are indisputable: Trump destroyed millions of people's faith in the US political system by refusing to accept his election defeat and inciting an insurrection against Congress. He inspired radical, far right White nationalists. He lied every day. His "beautiful" health care plan
was a sick myth. He torched America's global reputation. And he incessantly exploited his job to boost his business, reversing President John Kennedy's admonition, "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country."
Trump did often raise questions that conventional politicians dodged: Shouldn't the US be tougher on an increasingly hostile China? When will someone actually help ghost towns in the Midwest and the South where industries died at the hands of elite free traders? Why don't prosperous Europeans pay more for their own defense? What is the sense in sending heartland Americans to die in the Middle East?
But he never answered these questions. And for all Trump's championing of "forgotten" Americans, his sole big legislative win was huge tax cuts for corporations and his rich cronies.
Trump mythologizes his skill as a builder, but he will be remembered for destruction. After losing the White House, the House and the Senate, being impeached twice and throwing tens of thousands of lives into the teeth of the pandemic, this one-termer has earned his inevitable historic ignominy as one of the worst US presidents, if not the worst.
'He would be greatly disappointed in how we have chosen to conduct ourselves'
Civil rights leader and peaceful protest advocate Martin Luther King Jr. would be disappointed by the state of the country if he were alive today, his son said on Monday -- a national holiday to honor King. "My father always believed in the people of our nation. Certainly, he would be greatly disappointed in how we have chosen to conduct ourselves at this particular moment, but most particularly, probably disappointed in the commander in chief, because the commander in chief is supposed to bring people together and not to bring people together to actually intercept your government," Martin Luther King III told CNN's Brianna Keilar.
No time for losers / 'cause we are the champions ...
In the words of one of his campaign anthems
, Trump has no time for losers. Yet he has no choice but to face the consequence of his election defeat this week: exiting the White House.
He won't go quietly. Trump is planning his own sendoff with full military honors and a 21-gun salute, in what could be his last super-spreader event as President. But since his supporters sacked Congress, the guest list for his early morning farewell at Joint Base Andrews may no longer be a hot ticket. Even Anthony Scaramucci -- who after a farcical 10-day term as White House communications director now refers to Trump as "the domestic terrorist of the 21st century"
-- got an invite.
Some presidents leave looking like they can't wait to hand over the burdens of office. But others loathe ceding the spotlight. President Richard Nixon, who also left in disgrace, delivered a tearful farewell to his Cabinet with the immortal self-justifying line, "Others may hate you, but those who hate you don't win unless you hate them, and then you destroy yourself." Then he was off with that famous two-armed salute, fingers flashing a "V" for victory, at the door of Marine One.
No one loved being president like Bill Clinton. Even after the longest of goodbyes, he couldn't bear to let go, stringing out a huge farewell rally at Andrews that some saw as a poor taste distraction from George W. Bush's inauguration.
Pointing to a sign that read, "Please don't go," the two-termer told fans, "I left the White House — but I'm still here."
Eight years later, George W. Bush left incoming President Barack Obama's inauguration and helicoptered over a crowd singing, "Na na na na, hey hey, goodbye!" in mockery of his presidency, which had effectively expired in the bloodied sands of Iraq.
The joke soured on Democrats eight years on, though, when Obama was succeeded by a president who made W look like George Washington.