A Prediction on Trump and the American Spirit
I am going to make a prediction: I do not think we are going to see violence in the streets after Trump’s loss, and I’ll tell you why. Trump was not a political position; he was a sickness that attached itself to a political position, like the coronavirus attaching itself to a good cell.
I watched the Trump flag-waving folks with their pickups and bumper stickers bringing food to the fire refugees and going out to find those who were unaccounted for. I saw them helping their neighbors no matter what their political persuasion. They were good, caring people, who would give someone in need the shirts off their backs, just as those of us who secretly or not so secretly wanted to see Trump dead would reach out to help anyone in a situation of need. We were all good cells, but he infected us all, no matter what our political persuasion.
Be honest: Those of us on the left found ourselves having feelings and entertaining thoughts that were sick and angry. We did not feel good about ourselves for doing so. I know from my friends on the right that they were doing the same from their position. Somewhere inside all of us was a voice saying, “How can I be feeling this? I can’t believe I am thinking the thoughts I am thinking.” Whatever diabololical force Trump possessed — and, yes, he could have shot someone on Fifth Avenue and not have been convicted — put him inside all of our psyches for four years. We hardly had a moment when we were not thinking about him — one dysfunctional, cruel, horrible false man — who by his obsession with himself somehow drew the rest of us into that obsession.
We will need to do some hard cultural introspection in the future to figure out what this was, and how to keep it from happening again. But the truth is that he drew us all, right, left, and center, into the locus of his sickness. I truly believe that few of us wanted to be there.
If you consider how you are feeling right now, I’ll bet it is more a sense of relief than hope (if you are on the left) or fear (if you are on the right). We have somehow shed the political virus that was killing our body politic and we are all able to breathe again. We have chased Donald Trump from our minds and exorcised him from our spirits.
My guess is that this palpable feeling of relief and release is bigger than Trump; that we all want this sickness to be gone so we can go back to being human. We will go back to arguing, and the intractable issues of abortion/right to life, gun control, and others will cause our anger to rise and our hearts to harden. But the removal of Trump from the emotional calculus has allowed light to shine inside all of us again.
None of us wants to be the person we have been for the last four years. We have been that person because of Donald Trump, and we are weary — all of us. I truly believe that we will all move on from this man faster than anyone can imagine, and he will be left raging alone on a stage in an empty political arena with a few well-worn MAGA hats strewn around the floor.
We want to be good. We want to be healthy. We want to be happy. As my Native friends say, we want to bring the world back into balance. Trump represented something dark inside of all of us. May he disappear from our individual and cultural memory as quickly as possible, and remain only as a distant reminder and a cautionary note. I truly think this can happen.