Coping with Trump’s carnage
Dealing with the Trump administration hasn’t been easy; instead, it’s filled with fear, loathing, rampant dysfunction, and overwhelming, confusion with no relief. There was the inauguration weekend itself, filled with all sorts of foreboding shit. Trump ripped off Bane and Bulworth in his address. It was an odd feeling knowing one of the nation’s darkest moments was happening across a short, cold distance of 50 miles. Trump even requested tanks and missiles for his parade. It was, as he said, “carnage.”
He attracted one-third of Obama’s inauguration crowds and lower ratings than any modern president, got all butt-hurt over the size of the Women’s March, and sent Sean Spicer out the next day to throw a surreal, Orwellian bitchfit. Then shit got real.
With his approval at a shaky 40%, Trump took no time starting the madness with a week’s worth of executive orders and tweets meant to flood the zone, overwhelm, and devastate. He started his own new kind of political shock doctrine. There were the executive orders, like hurting home buyers, curtailing Obamacare, building the wall, reauthorizing construction of the Keystone and Dakota pipelines and the institution of his Muslim ban that wreaked havoc at the nation’s airports. It tore at the fabric of the country and enraged allies and enemies alike. Trump also filed his reelection papers on Inauguration Day and put Steve Bannon on the National Security Council.
Then there were the things President Trump said. He still continued to claim that three to five million people had voted illegally, and called for an investigation, an obvious pretext for the continuation of the Republican effort to curtail voting rights. He threatened to send the feds into Chicago. He said the CIA gave him a standing ovation in a room with no chairs, again claimed the thriving New York Times was failing, and threatened sanctuary cities. He gave a batshit interview to ABC’s David Muir. It was all an insane, whirlwind of state-sponsored terror. “1984” shot to number one on Amazon and the Doomsday Clock was pushed even closer to midnight.
You take your victories and solace in teaspoon amounts. Like watching Richard Spencer get sucker-punched into a never ending karmic meme, the “Bitch, it’s Saturday” lady, or the growing Resistance started with the Women’s March on Washington, or Kirsten Gillibrand being the only Democratic senator to have gotten the message and voting against nearly every Trump cabinet appointment. But there are limits to happiness in life under Trump. It’s a bit of a headfuck to spend two years badmouthing a candidate and then all the sudden they’re president. It takes time to change habits and adjust. Part of me says you get what you deserve. But this new reality is unimaginably bad. Daily outrages and weekend protests may just be the new normal.
Trump has turned politics from a game of ideas into bloodsport, one where people who you might not like or disagree with aren’t opponents but enemies. It creates this nagging vexation in the back of your mind. It feels like a constant panic attack.
Politics is an addiction. Bingeing the inauguration felt like hitting bottom. I love political campaigns and never want them to end, but Trump, being the repellent and loathsome person he is, really made me hate following the race, and now it’s painful to read or watch the news. I didn’t want to write about him after November. Trump has polluted my beloved politics. And that’s saying something! It’s not uncommon for a new president to occupy an inordinate amount of time in your mind, especially if you’re politics-obsessed, but sometimes you need a break. For your own sanity, you have to go cold turkey from time to time. It’s not sticking your head in the sand; it’s getting your head out of your ass.
I look at my bookshelves, DVR, campaign pins, stickers and memorabilia (much of it from Republican campaigns), and somehow it all links back to him. Everything is colored by Trump, and it’s nauseating. I was no fan of Bush, but I was never disturbed by him. Trump is a genuinely disturbing person. He’s just not on the level or a man of his word. I simply have not been this unnerved in my adult life.
You try to avoid it. I’ve been watching a lot fiction and trying not know how bad it really is out there. I rationalize. I bullshit. I try to detox, and it doesn’t work. I’m constantly catching myself grinding my teeth. It’s like being on coke or E but without all the fun. I’ve gotten a lot of cleaning done around the house. Hillary is definitely onto something with that whole walking in nature thing.
I’ll try to distract myself and turn on a movie I love like “Midnight Special” and see new Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin’s name in the credits. I’ll watch “Young Pope” and be blown away by the similarities to the day’s events. I’ll go out to dinner and hear people talking about it at another table. It’s like he follows and finds you. Trump’s presidency is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night and when I do sleep, sometimes I’ll dream about it. There is no escape.
To stay sane you have to recognize that this will all come to an end at some point. There will always be another election, and it’s clear the Trump administration is headed toward an embarrassing and ugly conclusion, but god it’s hard right now. There will come a time when the nation doesn’t hang on every word the president utters. But it won’t be soon. Eventually though, no matter who it is, the country does stop listening. And I’ll be counting down the days and listening to Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Trump has probably never heard that song (shameless “Anchorman” reference), but its lyrics apply to almost every aspect of life under this new administration. They apply to him and us.