Do not be concerned. These things are to be expected, when you allow Donald Trump to inject himself into your party.
You will still be able to do all the activities you enjoyed before: tax reform, trumpeting family values (it might take a little while to get back in shape for this, but you will surely get there), tending to the military, fretting over the deficit, attending closed-door fundraisers with business leaders. If you permit just the slightest erosion of parliamentary norms, you might even wind up nominating a Supreme Court justice or two, which has long been a dream of yours, along with hiking Mt. Denali.
You will not cease to be who you have always been. It is just barely possible that the Trump virus might . . . bring out certain things that you had not been aware of in yourself. But you have no worries there: You are a Republican. You have nothing to be ashamed of.
There will be a slight tingling at the site of election, but otherwise you will feel no particular discomfort. It is worth it, for the things you want.
To start with you will find yourself apologizing less. You will crave red meat all the time. But you have always liked red meat. You will hear yourself shouting things — “Lock her up!” “Build the wall!” You will hear things about the media, certainly, but nothing you have not already started to say (coastal elitists, snobs). Facts will start to blur, just a little. Crowds will alter their size with alarming rapidity.
You will notice yourself becoming fonder of Russia. You will even make a T-shirt. Some mornings you will wake up and think, Russia? I don’t like Russia, do I?
Your memory will flicker in and out. (Do not worry; you are becoming like him. This is part of the process. Pay it no mind.) A wall. A military parade. Yelling at Australia, for no particular reason. Jared Kushner in charge of the Middle East. You want these things, now.
Sometimes you will think, did I always favor military parades, have I always been this excited by nepotism? Didn’t this used to make my gorge rise in my throat? But the feeling will pass if you eat something (a hamburger, cooked all the way through).
One morning your spine will just fall out. Do not worry; this is normal. You will scarcely notice. It was not doing you any good, back there.
Besides, the tax cuts continue.
They start separating children at the border and you think, wouldn’t I have felt something about this? You try very hard to see what you are feeling, but all you can feel is the urge to go on TV and defend the president. That can’t be right.
You start to lose bits and pieces of your face and great clumps of your hair. A fine yellow-blonde hair not seen in nature grows back in its place, on a skin of burnt umber.
The percentage of Republicans who think it is never acceptable to use the n-word starts to slip. Were there always so many Nazis? You keep telling them not to come, you are sure of this, but they keep forgetting not to come.
You hear people saying that the president may have done something illegal. People look at you and you are not sure why they are looking at you. Is it that they expect you to say something? Sometimes you go without speaking for such a long interval that you become terrified you have forgotten how. What do you think about this, they ask? Are you going to exercise oversight? Isn’t crime bad?
You try to respond, but your limbs are sluggish and unfamiliar. You open your mouth to speak. “No collusion,” you croak. You shuffle to the elevator with your mouth shut.
You used to have thoughts about this, once. But they feel very far away. He is yours. He is yours, and you must protect him. Maybe he should fire anyone who stands in his way. Maybe everyone who opposes him is a vile conspirator. Maybe they are all witches. Why shouldn’t he do what he wants?
One day you will look in the mirror and see nothing, only, him. Standing behind you. You are not in the mirror at all. Or maybe, this was always you.
But it is all right. You are a Republican. You have no shame. In fact, barely anything has changed at all.