It was dusk on Saturday, hours after the networks called the election for Joe Biden. I was on the phone with someone in the White House. The news had sucked the air out of the building, I gathered. Soon enough, elsewhere in the executive mansion, there would be rage and defiance and a convergence of dark-blue suits.
But the man with whom I spoke found that his mind had already departed the building. He was thinking about different challenges—about his future, his children, his plan to go and live somewhere far away from Washington. I’m not sure if he was actually clearing out his desk, but that was the idea. He was clearing his mind. He meant to start over and try to rethink the country and understand what it has become.
Outside the White House, beyond the newly installed unscalable fence, across Pennsylvania Avenue in Lafayette Park, the crowds were noisy and giddy and relieved and triumphal and a little vengeful, with a touch of the Jacobin: jubilation spiked with malice, not unlike the day in 1944 when Paris was liberated from German occupation. They held up signs that said “YOU’RE FIRED.” That was the mildest sentiment. Elsewhere, in the republic of screens, cries rose to shave the heads of the collaborators, so to speak—to make lists of Trumpists who must be exposed and proscribed: canceled.
Mr. Morrow is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His latest book is “God and Mammon: Chronicles of American Money.”