Let's never do that again

The case for not going back to normal

He wanted to be a strongman. Now he will be a gone man.

There are no words for this moment.

But some days ago, I was asked by The New York Times to try to find the words anyway, should this moment come. I’ve spent the last many days working on this essay for the Sunday Review, and now it is part of my catharsis to share it with you.

It is a celebration of the end of this civic nightmare — and then a reflection on what comes now: “If this election is to have lasting meaning, we cannot see Mr. Biden’s victory as license to cast away politics as a presence in our daily lives. We cannot succumb to the liberal temptation parodied by the comedian Kylie Brakeman to ‘vote for Biden so we can all get back to brunch.’”

There will be so much to say in time. But for now, let me just say that how grateful I am to so many of you who I know have fought with all you have, lived and breathed this struggle, and held each other close through four years we must never do again.

What a country.

By Anand Giridharadas

Let’s never do that again.

Soon, it appears, the worst president in modern American history will resume private life. Everyone who favors the rule of law, decency and truth is exhaling a long-deferred sigh of relief. Millions are upset that the election was as close as it was. Still, however narrowly, Americans have snatched our republic from the jaws of an encroaching autocracy. We deserve the catharsis — whether dancing in the streets or joy-scrolling in quarantine.

Gone from the White House will be an administration whose gaslighting operation was matched only by its hostility and deadly incompetence. Gone will be the necessity for, and our stupid hope in, saviors: Robert Mueller, state attorneys general, Anonymous, “concerned” Senators Susan Collins and Mitt Romney. Gone will be the Muslim bans, the human-rights violations at the southern border, the photo-op Bible shaken like a martini after federal police gassed nonviolent protesters. The parade of disheveled presidential associates under indictment, the Jared and Ivanka leaks, MSNBC’s nightly seminars on Russian oligarchs, the presidential retweets of literal white supremacists — gone.

Given the collective frenzy of these years, Joe Biden intuited that legions of Americans wanted a return to normal — a restoration, a reversion. The earnest hope in his promise “to restore the soul of America” was that the same country that uplifted Donald Trump and let itself be consumed by internet-fueled culture wars could heed its better angels again, as it did when it elected the nation’s first Black president on a hope-and-change mandate not so long ago.

But if this election is to have lasting meaning, we cannot see a Biden campaign victory as license to cast away politics as a presence in our daily lives. We cannot succumb to the liberal temptation parodied by the comedian Kylie Brakeman to “vote for Biden so we can all get back to brunch.”

Read the full essay here:


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