Let's All Try And Be Normal

Ed Zitron 4 min read

Who knows what kind of president Joe Biden will be. He could be boring. Oh, what I would not give for a boring-ass president. Not necessarily because I won’t care about politics, or indeed that I’ll consume less information about politics, but I am looking forward to not having a conversation about politics every day, or week. I’m still gonna read about it just as much! Absolutely! But I also hope that this isn’t as tortured as the last four years were with regards to the discourse.

Now, I could look like a huge idiot, and we could be back to the fractious conversations that we’ve all been having, but I don’t think Joe Biden is going to speak as much as Trump. I don’t think he’s going to go out there and have public conflicts with 84-year-old real estate moguls, or describe a bomb in the manner that guys in the 50s described women.

I maintain that the average person should not talk about or think about politics as much as the last four years have made them. I think the maelstrom of the last four years where every day everyone seemed to have to tweet about politics was created by a combination of a few things:

Whiplash: I think everyone, myself included, thought Hillary was going to win, and thus when she didn’t nobody had really thought about how bad Trump would be. Even when Bush won his second term everyone I knew (I didn’t live in America at the time so maybe I’m missing it) was like oh, that sucks, I can’t believe that but it makes sense I guess.

We were more online than before: Twitter and Facebook had become so omnipresent that we were just able to talk about politics whenever we felt like it, which it turned out meant all the time. This also meant anyone could talk about it any time they thought about it, and of course the powers that chose to manipulate and antagonize people were already in play (and had been throughout Obama’s terms).

It’s Good Gossip: Misery loves company, and everyone loves gossip, and we all love to talk about things that are bad all the time. Sometimes it feels good to be upset about the same things as everyone else, even if talking about them makes us sad, and so we kept talking about it.

Helplessness: The overwhelming “bad” feel of Trump was an amplification of forces we all knew to be bad, and all knew existed - white nationalism, jingoism, racism, capitalism, xenophobia - things that constantly were a problem under basically every administration ever, and were never satisfactorily dealt with. Trump constantly said the quiet part out loud, and gave voice and industry to the people who said the quiet parts out loud, and put into action said quiet parts at a blaring, tinnitus-inducing volume. And all at once everyone realized exactly how little the average person can do at any time.

This is why so many people were obsessing over every Trump person who got arrested, the Mueller report, the investigations over his tax returns. While I am guilty of the same smug response of “this won’t do anything” to just about all of these investigations, I think the average person (and this is not a moral or intellectual superiority I have, rather a more cynical realist understanding of how hard it is to actually remove a president from anything) saw these as opportunities for the sun to creep in on a cloudy day, for a great injustice to be set right.

And when said injustices weren’t fixed again and again and again, that hopelessness turned into more posts about how we needed to vote, and how bad X thing was. Because what the fuck else were people to do? Just sit there and watch? Just accept that sometimes - many times, in fact - things don’t get better, despite being transparently unfair and awful?

I admit I’ve been cruel about these people constantly posting “vote!!!” every two seconds and posting about how bad Donald Trump is and how #diaperdonald will upset him, and how childish it is - and it may very well be childish! - but I also now, thinking about it more, understand that this was merely a coping strategy, and a relatively harmless one at that.

I think that this is what a lot of the resistance type grifters latched onto - this feeling of being unable to affect any real change on the world. So they posted that if you used the hashtag #moscowmitch you could make Mitch McConnell feel bad, and also listen to the Resistance Podcast and buy the #ResistTrump t-shirt. The Krassensteins’ weird website really learned how to milk people’s desperation for news - for understanding of this big, ugly world, and for some vestige of hope against the very same forces that put America in a place that it would vote in Trump.

While I’m not sure we’re done with Trump in totality, I do think that the GOP has managed to shoot themselves in the foot in so thoroughly investing in his particular brand of racism and bigotry (as opposed to their regular flavor). He’ll perhaps have a run at a 2024 campaign, but he may have to do so without Twitter or Facebook, and he’ll definitely have to do so knowing that he’s under more scrutiny than before (as if that matters). It would be so funny if he creates a third party and splits the GOP vote. I would love it. Please, Mr. Trump sir, make the Patriot Party.

Regardless, the next year or so is going to be incredibly indicative as to whether we are ever going to leave the hyper-partisan nightmare we’re in. There is finally a bit of hope - and the hope is different to when Obama came in, in the sense that expectations are significantly lower and mostly set around Joe Biden not actively talking about murdering people or calling journalists enemies of the people. If this presidency is boring but productive, people may calm down a bit, though that will also require America to right a great many wrongs that are, well, part of America.

We shall see. Either way, not a great day to pitch reporters.

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