2020 was a horrible year. The pandemic is the obvious reason. But there’s another reason 2020 belongs in the hall of shame: It’s the year we found out just how low our former president could go.
We already knew he was a narcissist. We already knew he had few moral qualms if any. We already knew he cared nothing about the truth.
But when the pandemic hit and Americans began dying by the tens of thousands, I thought for sure this would affect him. Somehow. He will care, maybe just a little bit. He’ll be shocked out of his venality long enough to acknowledge the tragedy and try to do something about it.
But no. The only thing our former president cared about was how it affected his political standing, how it affected his self-image — the mighty superman, never wrong, and never weak. Since all those deaths would make him look bad, he dismissed them, ignored them, minimized the danger, and told people not to make such a big deal out of it. It’s nothing. It’s going away on its own.
He took that stance not because he was brave but because acknowledging the disaster might make us realize that he wasn’t up to the task. It was too much work. He didn’t have it in him. He didn’t have the energy even to pretend to care. It wasn’t worth it. It wouldn’t add to his wealth or power. Why should he care?
He even got the vaccine in secret because taking it in public would have made him look weak, like he wasn’t more powerful than the virus, after all.
The deaths and the danger were ignored and dismissed, and anyone concerned about them was trying to attack him politically. Anyone who wanted to work on the problem was trying to make him look bad. It was a personal insult.
And then, in January of 2021 — like some cancerous appendage to 2020 — we saw how much the former guy cared about our democracy when he refused to concede his loss. He chose instead to tell lies that riled up an insurrection. The riot, fueled by his words, killed police officers. The rioters threatened lawmakers’ lives and defaced our Capitol. And he was okay with all of it. The country’s safety and the government’s stability weren’t as important to him as his self-image as the man who cannot lose.
He took the country to the edge with him, all for his own glory. We didn’t matter.
And even still, some people follow and support him. And that shows us just how fragile our nation is. It’s not steady. It wobbles. It totters. We’re only waiting for the collapse, and we’re scared even to breathe.
Thanks to him.