It’s like we’re in an endless car ride with a drunk at the wheel. No one knows when the pain will stop.
PSYCHOLOGIST DAPHNE DE MARNEFFE, ON OUR CURRENT TRAUMAS
First published January 26, 2021
The events of the last month or so have gotten me thinking a lot about the issue of closure. Many of us were happy to see 2020 come to an end and anticipate something better for the new year. But the political closure many were looking for in November in the change of presidents from Donald Trump to Joe Biden was deferred by Trump and his supporters’ refusal to acknowledge the election results. Trump’s persistent claims that the election was “rigged” boiled over on January 6 in the riotous storming of the Capitol Building. Trump’s supporters came with their own closure issues, determined to stop the lawful counting of the ballots of the Electoral College, and thereby prevent Trump’s removal from power.
Biden’s inauguration on January 20 was strangely serene, due in large part to pandemic. The usual crowds were replaced by rows of flags, artfully arranged on the lawn between the Capitol and the Washington Monument. It stood not only as a reminder of the strangeness of this time in our national history, but as a stark contrast from the scene in the same place just a few weeks before, during the insurrection at the Capitol. The inauguration was, in other words, an exercise in closure: an attempt to put a punctuation point on the chaos and trauma not only of January 6, but of 2020 and the entire Trump era.
If I am in any way representative, the scenes and choreography of the inauguration did offer some respite from what has seemed like the unending distress of the last four years. But have Americans really gotten the closure they need? Is closure really ever possible in the field of politics?