Breathe easy, America. Donald Trump’s knee is no longer on your neck. You rose, more than 75 million voters strong, and shoved him off your back.
The debilitating weight that rendered you helpless for four agonizing years is no longer there.
You are free now. You survived. You stand bruised and unsteady, uncertain about what the future holds. Though you are rejoicing in the streets, you are not sure the ordeal is over.
Other times you thought he was defeated, he prevailed more emboldened than before. Rather than loosening the grip on your neck, he pressed down harder and harder.
You were suffocating
When someone’s knee is buried deep in your neck, you cannot think clearly. You lose focus and drift in and out of awareness. You are so weakened that it is difficult to fend for yourself.
He thought he had convinced you that living with a knee pinned to your neck is not as bad as some make it out to be. He thought that you would be content to remain under duress four more years if he dangled a few distortions in your face.
He claimed responsibility for a growing economy that began thriving under Barack Obama. He offered you the freedom not to wear a mask, knowing that it would allow COVID-19 to flourish.
He promised you a speedy return to normal. But the pandemic has created a new normal in America, and it is nothing like the past.
You were not tempted in the least, because you knew that he could not be trusted. Still, he thought he had you beaten. He thought he had drained every bit of reliance from your veins. He thought you had given up. He was sure he had won.
He cannot believe that you had the fortitude to push him off your neck. He cannot accept that he was so blinded by narcissism and arrogance that he never thought you would form a human crane and lift yourself up.
Not only did you free yourself, you liberated more than 70 million others who voted to stay exactly where they were. Some didn’t even realize there was a knee holding them down. Other didn’t care.
The pressure was applied so hard that it stifled the entire country. Everyone was suffocating from anger and hatred, aimed not at him but at each other. America was on a path to annihilation, though some saw it much more clearly than others.
He cannot afford to let you go because when you breathe freely, he must gasp for air. He thrives on your pain and is energized when you feel hopeless.
He is doing everything in his power to prove that you are not as strong as you appeared to be on Nov. 3 when you showed the world that you had had enough.
Find your power
You got up and ran faster than you ever had before. He is trying to catch you and pin you down again. But every vote that is counted puts you another step ahead.
So far, you have outpaced him. He knows that you will soon be so far out of reach that he will have no other option than to turn around and face defeat.
But he isn’t ready yet. He has invested too much in your demise. Though it could rip this country into shreds, he isn’t about to give up without a fight. And when — not if — he fails, it is unlikely that he will concede.
He is coming hardest for the most vulnerable among you — in urban areas where Black people have had knees on their necks for generations.
He believes you deserved to be buckled down, that anyone who suffers beneath someone’s knee is unworthy of being freed.
He does not think that oppressed people are courageous enough to fend off their oppressor. He is seeking witnesses who will say that you did not free yourself by your own will. He insists that you are cheaters, liars and scoundrels.
He thinks that you were held under his knee so long that you are willing to break laws and undermine democracy to get what you want. He sees you as a corrupt mirror image of himself.
At the end of the day, he is counting on the courts to take over the pursuit, wrestle you down and bring you back to him. He is looking for a court that is willing to grant him more time on your neck to finish the destruction he started.
He needs a court that believes his accusations that the entire system that allowed you to free yourself is fraudulent, that the election in which you decided to get up rather than continue flailing on the ground was rigged.
But he has already lost. Now that his knee is removed, you can envision a future without him. Hope has returned. You are proud of your perseverance and invigorated by your victory.
So, exhale. The tightness in your chest is gone. Your heart is calm, and your mind is clear. You are eager to start anew.
Soon you will have the confidence to stand firm on your feet. And you will look him in the eye and say, “Never again.”
Dahleen Glanton is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune.