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The most excruciating week in recent memory came to a climactic end on Saturday with Joe Biden’s victory over Donald Trump. The city streets that four years ago teemed with protesters denouncing the election of Trump over Hillary Clinton now came alive with masked dancers, celebrating a potential return to political normalcy during an extremely abnormal time.

Joe Biden will take office on January 20. What happens until then?

President Trump, who refuses to concede, will retain his power for a little more than two months. He’s already fired Defense Secretary Mike Esper and tweeted so many false accusations of election fraud that I haven’t bothered to count how many times the social media site has found it in everybody’s best interest to censor them. He has half a billion dollars of debt coming due in the next few years, and he won’t have the office of the presidency to protect him from any legal repercussions of his shady business dealings. (The New Yorker has a good article about how screwed he is.) But until Biden is sworn in, we’ll have to contend with whatever stunts the lame-duck Trump gets it in his mind to pull.

And we’ll have to deal with an issue not easily redressed by rejoining the Paris agreement or packing the Supreme Court or defunding the police: the coronavirus pandemic, which in the United States is approaching a third peak far higher than those of the spring and summer. Early data from Pfizer suggests that its trial vaccine could be more than 90 percent effective—and stocks have consequently soared—but the vaccine is still a long way from being fully approved, and even then, governments and health departments will have to figure out how to distribute it.

It’s going to be a long, strange winter tainted by a lot of death. But at the very least—if we make it to the end of January—we’ll get a brand-new president. Still an old white guy, sure, but one capable of pretending to be normal. That’s enough for me, for now.

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FACT:

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