Shaking Off the Post-Election Malaise

John McCain is one of the few Republicans who’s showing any gumption in standing up to Trump, or at least saying he will. Part of me is glad. Part of me is unbearably disheartened that we are yet again watching two elderly white men in a testosterone-fueled feud, lining up like a pair of ancient rutting elks to fight over who is the more dominant. How tedious. How boring. Women of a certain age thought we had left all of that behind us. I find both of them insufferable.

Shaking off the post-election malaise is proving hard. I was at a meeting yesterday downtown, and the first fifteen minutes was spent on how or whether our democracy will survive this appalling choice for president. The reality of Trump has permeated everything, and like the Zika virus, continues to multiply and cause damage.

The New York Times has an opinion piece on why the Democrats didn’t fight harder over the tainted outcome of the election, as the Republicans surely would have done had the situations been reversed. I don’t know why we don’t fight harder. Perhaps Democrats believe more in government, in following the rules. Republicans are knife fighters, interested in power and willing to do whatever it takes to gain power and keep it. Hillary and President Obama have gracefully accepted the apparent outcome of the election. Perhaps they shouldn’t have.

Fighting the post-election malaise is personal for each of us. For some, it means distraction. For others, it means choosing to hope that things under Trump might not be as bad as they appear — even though every day brings new evidence that things will indeed be very bad.

Even if Trump were to vanish tomorrow, I think irreparable damage has been done. Italy could elect Berlusconi twice, and it was a mid-level power acting foolishly. But the United States is the United States, and we would never do that — until we did.  Now we know that close to half of the electorate is willing to take the incredibly reckless step of poking a stick in the eye of democratic norms and the global order, just to do it. How do you walk back from that to once again become the sane, steady leader of the free world?

Trump demeans and degrades the office of the president every day that he occupies that role. I’m waiting for an opposition leader to arise, around whom we can coalesce. I doubt my sense of malaise will lighten until then.

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