BUT OUR ANGST COULD BE HIS DOWNFALL
But combine all these emotions and you end up with what I have, something that’s gotten worse over the past three years.
Call it angst. The relentless, on-going, persistent, unrelenting, pervasive dread that I experience all day, every day, and maybe you do, too - the obsession that we’re losing the battle to stop Donald Trump from destroying democracy.
I admit this reluctantly.
Before Cat died – he was a co-founder and an author of the Tracking Trump blog – we agreed that going into 2020, we were going to keep positive when it comes to talking about Donald Trump.
The danger, we agreed, is that acute angst can be a self-fulfilling disaster, so that we become so worn down, even paralyzed, that we become unfit for the job of countering Trump’s drive to wreck everything.
BUT CAT AND I WERE WRONG. Sort of.
Take this week’s cascade of high-tension news about impeachment: Are the Democrats screwing up the process? Why aren’t Republicans held to account for spreading phony conspiracies? What’s with the screaming and name-calling? Why are the Democratic primary candidates tearing each other to pieces? And how does Trump seem always, no matter what awful thing he does or Tweets, keep on getting away with it?
If that doesn’t bother you – if you aren’t going to bed anxious, if you aren’t waking up anxious, if you aren’t anxious on the way to work, at lunch, on your way home, anxious during and after supper, then that’s just not normal.
Heading into the fourth awful year of Trump – with the real possibility there’ll be four more, but worse – we all should be infused with angst, our brains at the boiling point, about to liquefy.
You’re saying that dog and cat brains are too insignificant to explain what’s going on with Human voters, the ones with gigantic, enormous, humongous brains.
Here’s the thing: dogs are angst experts.
your average dog spends at least half her waking hours obsessing about the next possible catastrophe, an instinct bequeathed by our wolf forebearers, who struggled every day not to be someone’s next breakfast.
I'M SAYING THAT IT'S NOT WRONG TO BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANGST.
This was reinforced by two pieces I read in yesterday’s New York Times: a column by the excellent Michelle Goldberg, and a feature/news story by Sarah Lyall. Both deal with angst. (I've linked to them; click on the bylines or headlines to read).
Goldberg’s column, headlined: Democracy Grief Is Real, quoted a Georgia woman, Katie Landsman:
“It’s like watching someone you love die of a wasting disease,” she said, speaking of our country. “Each day, you still have that little hope; no matter what happens, you’re always going to have that little hope that everything’s going to turn out O.K., but every day it seems like we get hit by something else.” Some mornings, she said, it’s hard to get out of bed. “It doesn’t feel like depression,” she said. “It really does feel more like grief.”
Some people are suffering from general political angst. Others have specific qualms: a concern that their favorite candidate lacks that essential quality, electability; a worry that fellow Democrats will become disillusioned if their chosen candidate fails to get the nomination and will vote for a third-party candidate, or for Mr. Trump, or for no one at all — the “Bernie or Nobody” scenario.
Every news story sets off a neural meltdown.
How about the week’s big story – not the supposed China trade war settlement; not Trump’s tweet about Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old environmental crusader, advising her to work on “anger management” because she ended up on the cover of Time and he didn’t; not the assassination of Jews in Jersey City; and not the erupting volcano in New Zealand that killed 16 people.
The story that set my heart a-thumping is Boris Johnson’s big election win on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Why that story? We – the U.S. and the U.K. – have got a lot in common, and one of those commonalities is that Prime Minister Boris is a near doppelganger of President Donald.
Both do strange things with their hair; both are political opportunists with thin belief systems; both are seasoned liars; both traffic in insults and slurs; both have little regard for their nations’ democratic traditions; and both are fools, but dangerous fools.
Boris now has won control of Parliament, meaning Merry Old England is in for what could be five ruinous years, beginning with Boris following through on his promise to get Brexit “done,” pulling the U.K. out of the E.U., aka, the European Union that has made the region one of the world’s economic powerhouses. Just speculating here, but leaving the E.U. will send Britain to the economic dog house.
You could see that one coming from 3,281 miles away, hoping it wouldn’t happen, but knowing that it would.
Pre-election opinion polls indicated that Boris’ Conservatives were likely to win; and that Liberals were led by a substandard and widely disliked leader, so that once dependable industrial voters who have lost better-paying jobs were easy, gullible targets for demagogues and snake oil salesmen.
You didn’t have to be a stray dog from the Show Me State to suspect the outcome. And you don’t have to be a rescue from Missouri to see where the U.S> is heading in the 2020 election.
THE DEMOCRATS ARE IN DISARRAY.
No candidate for the party’s nomination has captured voters’ imaginations. Impeachment, like the Mueller Report, is on its way to being an anticlimactic flop. The recapture of the House by the Democrats after the mid-term elections turns out to be ineffectual compared to the powerhouse alliance of the White House’s Tweeter-In-Chief, Trump-worshipers in Senate and Trump-toadies at the Supreme Court.
It’s not that the Democrats aren’t trying hard to do the right things.
Democrats did win the House; the Mueller Report did document Trump’s coziness with the Russians; Trump’s offenses are impeachable. A score of talented candidates are stepping up to the plate to run against him.
The problem is that no matter what the Democrats do, nothing seems to work. Which is where our increasing angst comes in.
Johnson’s crushing victory in England is yet another dire warning that an Election Day Disaster in the former Colonies could be just months away, with the cruel reality that bad things really can and do happen to nice nations.
Which is why angst is appropriate, and why I can offer some advice.
After all, I’m licensed by the City of Newport, just not as a therapist. But like I said, as a dog, I am an angst specialist. I’m perpetually scared. I go nuts every time the mail is delivered to our house or when a dried leaf scuttles by on the sidewalk out front.
So, here goes:
Don’t waste your time trying to get over your deepening, all-consuming, never-ending angst. Embrace it. Use it.
With angst, we have two choices:
Hide under our favorite blankets.
Or, do what wolves and their wily successors have learned to when scared out of their teensy-weensy minds by hungry rivals hoping to use their Dine Out cards: snarl, attack, fight, run, organize, howl, compromise, drool, snarl, ingratiate, slink, maneuver, jump, bite, and most of all, evolve.
We have nothing to lose by acknowledging and acting on our angst.
But we have everything to lose by succumbing to it.