“It ain’t real on the ground,” we had told a friend on Friday after the respected website Decision Desk HQ called the race, “until it hits the airwaves.”
The moment was operatic, out of The Godfather, the networks simultaneously settling all family business, the sheer finality of it all.
And a moment later, the videos started flooding in.
People were taking to the streets. Americans were taking their joy to the streets. Shouting. Cheering. Singing. Dancing. We haven’t just been on lockdown eight months, we’ve been locked down four years, and we were finally letting freedom ring.
And in that moment, Joe Biden became Mr. President-Elect.
The final image of Donald Trump’s tyrannical reign may be Four Seasons Total Landscaping, next door to Fantasy Island Adult Books, but the final moment will always be when Americans moved on, when, for all the power he would still hold for another ten weeks, our collective attention shifted to somebody else.
We felt that happening Friday, personally, our inner Clark Gable no longer giving a damn about the cast of characters in our national clown show, their power over our attention arising from the fact they held power at all. We felt it on Facebook, our compulsion to correct idiots with facts waning by the minute. We felt the air leaving the balloon.
And Saturday, damned if it just didn’t go flat beneath all the dancing.
Historically, tyrants live for power. But the American version, the Trump version, lives for attention. The man sucks all the air from the room, as we observed a couple years back. There is no escape, not from him, not from his enablers, not from his supporters.
That’s been his real power, his hold on our collective attention. And in a single moment, the Godfather moment, the moment our attention shifted to a near-future without him, his power was gone.
For in that moment, we no longer had to take him seriously — him, his enablers, his supporters, the lot of them.
God, what a fucking relief.