There are some perks to the pandemic. Families can spend more time together. The kids are getting along better, except when they’re viciously fighting because they’re spending more time together. People can sleep a little later in the morning since there’s no commute. Social distancing is causing us to generally be more polite when we do venture out.
Social distancing hasn’t saved me, though, and it’s about to make me less polite, because I’ve been infected. I haven’t been infected with the Wuhan coronavirus, but something else altogether. I’ve come down with Trump Derangement Syndrome Derangement Syndrome (TDSDS).
Donald Trump isn’t the first president to generate derangement syndrome. The phrase, coined by Charles Krauthammer in 2003, originally applied to George W. Bush, as in Bush Derangement Syndrome. Krauthammer’s definition read, “The acute onset of paranoia in otherwise normal people in reaction to the policies, the presidency ‒ nay ‒ the very existence of George W. Bush.”
In short, there was no room for any nuanced discussion. Bush—or Bushitler as he was sometimes called—was an existential threat to the universe, one who caused otherwise rational or semi-rational people to become raging loons when discussing him.
Of course, there was also Obama Derangement Syndrome. People on both sides of politics experience this, although there wasn’t much ODS echoed in the mainstream media. It was more relegated to the internet.
Then Trump had the temerity to get elected and, woo boy, is the collective agitation back with a vengeance. Just attempting to debate the truth or merits of anything Trump makes one feel as though he’s doing a live-action recreation of this “satirical” video.
Ask Your Doctor If Constant Outrage Is Right for You
And I just can’t take it any more. I know you didn’t vote for the guy in 2016 and won’t be voting for him in November. I know you don’t like the man. I know you loathe everything about Trump’s existence, including the fact that he does exist. I get that there are complaints to be made about him.
There was also the attempt to tie chloroquine to Trump, even though he was merely mentioning what researchers were finding. Never mind that, though, because the malaria treatment was talked about as though it was something Trump created. He was even blamed for an Arizona man who died after ingesting an aquarium cleaner containing chloroquine phosphate, which is not, as should be obvious, the same thing as the drug being studied.
Trump even gets the blame for the spread of the virus, rather than the communist autocrats who rule China and lied for months about its transmissibility and lethality. The Atlantic went with the nuanced headline of “This is All Trump’s Fault,” although numerous other articles at the publication cover the same ground. (To be fair, the Atlantic also published an article suggesting it’s not all Trump’s fault.) Vox goes in the same direction, explaining it’s Trump’s fault because he eliminated an office created under the Obama administration and spread out its duties.
TDS even shows up in evaluations of how he’s trying to guide the country through the spread and recovery, although that onus is really more on state governments. To give just one recent example, New York Magazine claims Trump is “fomenting anarchy in his own country,” although most would refer to governors being in charge of their states as federalism and not anarchy. Just ignore that and focus on whatever the president is tweeting at any given moment and make sure to miss the point when he’s obviously joking.
Can We Just Hit Peak Trump Already and Get It Over With?
None of this is new. It’s been going on since Trump was a candidate, gained steam once he was elected, and then burgeoned into a full-fledged syndrome after he assumed office. Okay, maybe that last one doesn’t actually claim it’s a true syndrome, but something closer to reverse Beatlemania.
Maybe it’s that I have lower standards for politicians’ behavior, a position I would call rational. Normal people don’t set out to become president, crazy people do. They’re all egomaniacs and gluttons for punishment. The best we can hope for is that they do some of the things they said they were going to do on the campaign trail. They’re tools citizens can hopefully use to turn the levers of government in directions that we support.
So please, stop fixating on Trump and evaluating every issue through that lens. Don’t buy into crazy conspiracy theories about how Don Jr. is conspiring with the reverse vampires to eliminate dinner. You don’t have to scroll the president’s Twitter timeline looking for things to get outraged about.
There’s still a lot of good in the world. Maybe try focusing on that instead. If you won’t do it for your own sake, then do it for mine.
When the Comments Section Comes to Life
I also catch myself being equally emotional, spittle flecking my lips as I explain to no one in particular everything wrong with whatever argument I’ve just read. I roll my eyes whenever the latest iteration of the same arguments I’ve been reading since 2016 get sent my way. I get irrationally angry at comments on the internet, which makes me question my own sanity.
Emails, text messages, and Facebook comments make me want to cut off all communication and move into the woods where I can start writing a manifesto about the dangers of technology, which once would have also made me question my own sanity. Now not doing so makes me wonder.
If you want to have discussions about where Trump’s policies and style are successful versus where they are not, let’s do it. Surely we can agree on a few areas. Even better, though—and I get that this is a crazy idea—there are other things in the world besides Trump. Let’s talk about those. If you insist on world leaders, there are lots of really bad ones to choose from.
Heck, we don’t even have to focus on politics. We can commiserate on the aforementioned perks of the pandemic. We can debate ways to reopen the economy and avoid the catastrophes arising from keeping it turned off. We can talk about the movies we’ve been streaming, the music we’ve been listening to, why it’s obvious that Carole Baskin killed her husband, or literally anything else.
But Don’t Let the Storm Rage On
Keeping a myopic focus on Trump isn’t good for us. It’s exhausting. It’s not productive, it’s not rewarding, and it’s not illuminating. It’s letting so much hate flow through us that Emperor Palpatine thinks we need to lighten up a little bit.
Stay informed, but don’t spend your days obsessing over Trump. In fact, don’t spend your days obsessing over any politician. There’s a whole wide world out there, one that we will one day be able to go out in again, just as Trump will leave the White House and go out in either January 2021 or January 2025.
I know neither date is soon enough for you, but remember we all have to put up with politicians we don’t like and didn’t vote for. Some people just don’t let them command so much of our attention.
In other words, be more like Princess Elsa and let it go. In the distance of the future, everything will seem so small. Right now, the fears that control you don’t have to get to you at all. Trust me. Trump’s civilian gig may be real estate, but that’s no reason to let him live rent-free in your head 24/7.