The nation has reached a precarious turning point. The issues range from coping with the global coronavirus pandemic to restoring a sluggish economy, from confronting a continuing climate crisis to addressing gender/racial/ethnic discrimination.

In the midst of these significant issues, the country is led by a man singularly unqualified for the presidency. Before becoming president in 2016, Donald Trump had never held an elective office. His experience included casino, talk show and real estate operations. He prefers to be briefed on issues, only watches Fox News, and spends weekends at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.

Over the course of his presidency, Trump’s average approval rating in AP-NORC polls was only 39%. According to a mid-December USA TODAY/ Suffolk University Poll, moreover, 50% of the respondents rank Donald Trump as a “failed” president. Some even rate him as the “worst” in United States history.

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During his presidency, Trump has proven again and again that he has little concern for anyone other than himself. The tweeter-in-chief spews out a daily stream of campaign-style words, some contradictory, some half-truths and others simply false. He continues to make unfounded claims that he won the recent election “in a landslide.”

When defeated in the November 2020 election, he schemed and spread falsehoods as he continues his effort to overturn the 50-state certified election results that Joe Biden won. The Electoral College vote shows Biden with 306 electoral votes to Trump’s 232.

Since the election, Trump has largely abandoned the day-to-day running of the government. He has fixated on rewarding friends, purging the disloyal and punishing a growing list of perceived enemies, Republican governors, his former attorney general and even Fox News.

He has filed a flurry of lawsuits claiming, without evidence, that the election was rigged against him by Democrats, the media and radical leftists. The courts have routinely rejected the suits.

While fighting to stay in the White House, he shows little interest in doing the work required of the nation’s top leader. Since he lost his reelection bid in November 2020, he has pretty much abandoned the day-to-day routine of running his office.

He holds strategy meetings with invited members of his inner circle. He surrounds himself with blood relatives, paid lawyers and partisan soul mates. He holds rallies attended by his base of fanatical followers, who feed his need for egoistic adulation

When President-elect Joseph Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris are officially sworn into office on Jan. 20, a new era will begin. Biden, with 36 years in the Senate and eight as vice president, will become the oldest person (age 78) to ever hold the office of president for the first time. And Harris (age 56) will become the first woman of color (Indian mother, Jamaican father) to hold the office of vice president. Their victory at the polls came from a surge of low-income voters of all races and ethnicities and from liberals, workers, the middle class and suburbanites.

Biden seeks to “build an administration that looks like America.” The staff and cabinet will include women, first-generation Americans, Native Americans, African-Americans, Hispanics, Asians and LGBTQ.

The coronavirus, health care and climate change will likely top the Biden-Harris administration’s priorities. Also, discrimination, voting, wages, infrastructure and more fill an agenda designed to address human needs and cultivate human capacities.

With empathy and knowledge, the new leadership will seek to unify an exhausted, divided, and yet hopeful nation.

Scharnau is retired from a history teaching career of some 50 years. His email address is LiberalRalph@gmail.com.