New Yorker writer Masha Gessen knows autocrats. She’s a Russian-American journalist, born in Moscow and now living in the United States. She’s a keen observer of the autocrat Putin, and now of Trump as well.
In her latest New Yorker piece, entitled “In the Trump Era, We Are Losing the Ability to Distinguish Reality from a Vacuum”, she reflects deeply on living with integrity in the era of Trump. She dares to believe we can rebuild after, and I hope and trust she is right.
Definitely worth a read. Here’s a paragraph, if you don’t have time to dig into the whole piece:
“Consider the last month’s worth of conversation about Trump and North Korea. Forgetting the President’s “little rocket man” remarks and building on months of denial that Trump had brought the world as close to the brink of nuclear annihilation as it has ever been, politicians, bureaucrats, policy wonks, and journalists have been speaking as though Trump were engaged in actual negotiations with Kim Jong Un. Some deliriously joined him in contemplating the prospect of a Nobel Peace Prize. The voices of a few experts who dared say that nothing had been accomplished yet and expressed doubt that the summit would actually occur were quickly drowned out. The ritual of analysis and anticipation that normally accrues to diplomacy was accruing instead to Trump’s flailing gestures, in the same way that the normal rituals of punditry have accrued to Trump’s tweets, harangues, and inconsistencies, all of which are the opposite of politics. On Friday, the Times’ morning podcast, “The Daily,” offered up a thoughtful analysis of Trump’s summit-cancelling missive, which was written in the language of a sulking, lovelorn seventh grader. But no sooner was the podcast posted than Trump told the media that he might hold the summit after all.”
The central ethos of the Trump administration is chaos and disorientation, so that we lose track of the scandals, the corruption, the self-dealing, and the fact that nothing much of substance is happening at all.
Rebuilding after Trump means tuning out the intentionally created chaos, and focusing on what we see and hear and intuit.
We can do this.