I remember exactly where I was when The New York Times needle on my phone went from a cool blue “everything is fine; we’re gonna make history, baby” to a fiery red “the carnival barker reality television host is going to take away all of your rights.” I was at a friend’s loft in Soho. That was before the pandemic ended all the normal stuff, like parties, dinners, and funerals for loved ones. That was New York City before the refrigerated trucks and the field hospital in Central Park. That was before the children in camps, the Muslim ban, the swamp of corruption. That was before Jared Kushner “solved” coronavirus and told us that Donald Trump, not the doctors, was now in charge.
That night, after I left my friend’s home in something of a daze, I wandered the darkened streets of Soho. Then I went home to a fitful sleep, and I woke at 3 a.m. to find that Hillary Clinton had officially lost and Donald Trump had actually won. It was a gut punch—but nothing was worse than telling my 8-year-old daughter that the guy with all the sexual assault allegations was now going to be president of the United States.
The last four years of the Trump administration have been hard on all of us, though arguably not as hard for me as for the children being kept in the camps without soap or toothbrushes or the deported mothers or the 228,701 people who’ve died of coronavirus or their grieving families. But it’s pretty hard to argue than any of us are better off than we were four years ago. After all, four years ago we could go to Europe, or at least just leave the house. This week, we learned that the Trump administration has no plans to deal with the coronavirus and has embraced the deranged scientifically improbable herd immunity. This means that if Trump is reelected thousands more, or maybe even hundreds of thousands more, will die.
But it’s not just the Trump administration’s mishandling of the pandemic that’s so exhausting. The president’s baseline nuttiness is just crushing. I’m so tired of the chaos. Every single day is a Saturday night massacre in Trumpworld. It’s Watergate every single week. It’s the Teapot Dome every two hours. I’m so tired of looking at my phone and finding out that the president has done another insane thing to capture the news cycle. We’re no longer Trump’s constituents; we’re his hostages.
And then there’s the constant misogyny. The last four years have a shit sandwich of sexism and anti-women legislation. Trump let the violence against women act expire and I’m sick to my stomach about how Mitch McConnell nominated Amy Coney Barrett before Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s body was even cold. I’m so tired being told that women who want to take away other women’s rights are “feminist icons.” I’m sorry but Justice Amy is about as much of a feminist as Justice Keg Stand Kavanaugh.
After four years of Trump, I’m tired. Most people are tired. We’re tired of always wondering what horrible thing the president is going to say or do. We’re tired of the racism and the stupidity. And the thing I find the most exhausting is that the only unifying principle of Trumpism seems to be “owning the libs,” which isn’t a very effective governing principle.
The stakes are impossibly high, and people are nervous. I get it. The last few days, the texts have been relentless: friends, ex-lovers, acquaintances, people who have been married to my parents, my second cousins, people once sat next to one of my second cousins at a wedding. Everyone wants to know the same thing: Is it possible that we’re going to have another 2016? If you’re quiet, you can almost hear the low hum of anxiety from Democrats. It usually starts with a sentence to the effect of, “Sure, Biden’s polling is good, but…”
And I’m nervous, too. Democracy is quite literally on the ticket. But we have to be sensible. Trump won because everything cut in his favor. Despite this, he won by impossibly small margins. The key states of Michigan, Wisconsin are all trending toward Biden. And yesterday, the Cook Political Report moved Texas from “leans red” to “toss up.” That’s a state that hasn’t gone for a Democratic presidential candidate since 1976. The president’s approval rating is pretty grim, somewhere in the low 40s, where it’s been for over a year, and Biden is leading in all the national, state, and district polling.
But we’re afraid to say all this out loud. We’re afraid to hope, because we remember what happened last time. We’re afraid to say that “Biden will probably win” out loud because we’re worried that somehow that’s going to jinx it. One of my best friends keeps sending me every single poll that has Trump leading in any state. The other day she accidentally sent me a poll from 2016. But it’s not 2016. I get it—we’re fucking scared. We now know the chaos that a Trump presidency brings. We’ve seen the Nazis with the tiki torches chanting “Jews will not replace us” and we know what the stakes are. We know what damage four more years will bring to the most vulnerable. We’re not asking for much: We just want not to be governed by a lunatic any more
Four years later, as I still recover from that traumatic night in Soho, and the election night PTSD that I and millions of others share, I’m quietly filled with hope because I know in my heart that the American people are better than Trumpism. I think that, on Tuesday, the American people will finally reject Trumpism. They’ll reject the racism, the sexism, the selfishness, the stupidity, and the general sleaziness that is Trumpism. On Nov. 3, our national nightmare will end. At least I hope so.