We can remove this awful man from our collective headspace, which he has so thoroughly befouled. We can reclaim our serenity, our equilibrium, our sense 0f common humanity. We can return to a time when it was possible to go hours or even entire days without once thinking about what our president might be saying or doing. We can exhale.
At a recent rally in North Carolina, Trump was making one of his rambling attempts to mock Joe Biden when he told the crowd: “If I lose to him, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I will never speak to you again. You’ll never see me again.” Biden’s social media team quickly posted a clip of Trump’s remarks, then added a zinger: “I’m Joe Biden, and I approve this message.”
Biden echoed that theme in the debate. “If we get the votes, he’s going to go. He can’t stay in power,” Biden said. “Once the winner is declared after all the ballots are counted, all the votes are counted, that’ll be the end of it.”
Biden meant that the election will bring about the end of Trump’s tragically destructive and incompetent presidency. But Trump’s defeat will also mean liberation from having to live in thrall to his malignant narcissism. If he loses, he will go back to being a loud and obnoxious Twitter troll — one still with influence, to be sure, but he’ll be safe to unfollow.
Think of all the time and energy we all must presently devote to the outbursts driven by Trump’s bottomless appetite for attention. Imagine having that psychic burden lifted. Envision the name Trump appearing only in the headlines of below-the-fold stories about criminal investigations and civil lawsuits. Now vote, and make that dream a reality.
Imagine what we could do with the brainpower that is now sucked into Trump’s massive black hole of an ego. How much easier would it be to convince our neighbors to follow the advice of scientists on how best to halt the covid-19 pandemic without having to spend time combating Trump’s bleach-soaked misinformation campaign? What might we be able to do to stimulate a devastated economy without having to worry about the president’s need to brand every bit of aid as a personal gift? Where might the conversation about systemic racism be able to start without the president questioning whether racism even exists, or ever existed, in the faux-America of his limited imagination?
And we can at least try to revive the concepts of fact and truth. Remember those old friends? Remember how we once valued them because they helped us find our way as a society and as a nation?
I believe we underestimate how corrosive and brutalizing it is to have a president who lies not just constantly but remorselessly. Whenever the facts are inconvenient for Trump, he simply invents new ones that are more to his liking. During the debate, for example, he bizarrely claimed to know more about the timetable for developing a coronavirus vaccine than the official he put in charge of developing the vaccine. It was an obvious falsehood — yet Trump stood by it, just as he always stands by his lies.
Through repetition and force of will, Trump creates his own “reality.” But we know it is not really real, so we must constantly spend time and effort dispelling the miasma of mendacity that pours out of Trump’s fog machine of a mouth. Doing so is exhausting, Sisyphean, psychic labor that drains the soul. Yet it is necessary — because the words of a president, by definition, are consequential — and so the only way to end this epistemological trench warfare is to end Trump’s presidency and send him home to Mar-a-Lago, where he can mutter at the walls.
If Biden wins the election, Trump will not go happily and might not go easily. But he will indeed go — and when he leaves the White House, he will also vacate our national consciousness, giving us all some psychic room to breathe.
A vote for Biden is more than a vote for sane governance. It is a vote for American sanity, period.