The Only Way to Survive Trump is Together

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There are days when I feel like a broken man.

 

And it is Donald Trump who has broken me.

 

Not his political victories. Not the failures of his opposition.

 

But the very fact that this piece of shit is President of the United States – that fact sits on my brain like an insect I can’t swat.

 

On those days my belief in this country wavers and disappears.

 

 

Oh, I’ve always recognized its faults, how our reality hardly ever lived up to our ideals. But I also thought that the United States was populated by mostly good people who knew right from wrong.

 

To run this country we wouldn’t choose an obvious conman, a racist and sexist, a person of low IQ, a man with little to no experience, a reality TV star. We wouldn’t let him pick the next Supreme Court justices. We wouldn’t give him the power to pardon whomever he likes. We wouldn’t give him the ability to write almost whatever he wants into law through signing statements. And we certainly wouldn’t give him the nuclear codes.

 

But we did.

 

We did all of that.

 

Or we allowed it to happen by ignoring a broken electoral system that overturns the popular vote with frightening regularity.

 

So there he sits in the Oval Office – when he isn’t on vacation at Mar-a-Lago – like a smear of feces on the American flag.

 

Therapists call this feeling “Trump Anxiety Disorder” and I have it. Boy! Do I have it!

 

The D.C. Counseling and Psychotherapy Center has identified it as a “collective politically induced anxiety among patients.”

 

Apparently, Trump’s name comes up frequently in sessions with mental health professionals. Patients say they feel on edge because of the President’s ill-chosen, childish and undiplomatic words, fear of his bad decision making, and anxiety over his xenophobic and prejudicial policies.

 

Trump Anxiety Disorder is not yet an official diagnosis, but symptoms seem to include lack of sleep, a feeling of losing control and helplessness in an unpredictable political scene, along with endless negative headlines and excessive time spent on social media.

 

Elisabeth LaMotte, a therapist at the Washington, DC, center, said, “There is a fear of the world ending. It’s very disorienting and constantly unsettling.”

 

I’m not sure I fear that Armageddon is close at hand, but I certainly feel like the world I thought I knew is unraveling.

 

Fox News was quick to frame this story as a joke – those silly “libtards” are losing their minds over Trump. But it’s not just people on the left who suffer from the disorder, says LaMotte.

 

Many Trump supporters feel isolated from friends and family who don’t blindly follow their diminutive Furor. I guess it’s hard to pal around with someone who thinks it’s completely justified to separate children from their parents and lock them up in cages – unless you think the same thing.

 

Even the American Psychological Association (APA) has recorded a rise in anxiety since the 2016 election that increases depending on how political a person is regardless of affiliation.

 

The APA also noted that electronic news consumption increases that risk.

 

In my own case, my symptoms manifested physically on Election Day, itself.

 

I literally had a heart attack in 2016 after casting my ballot. And I had another one a short while later.

 

The first one may have had something to do with depression over the political options.

 

I didn’t know Trump would win. I thought the chances of it were infinitesimal. But I didn’t want Hillary Clinton, either.

 

I wanted Bernie Sanders, and since I thought the Democratic National Convention stacked the deck against him (and therefore voters) in the primaries, I voted for Jill Stein.

 

In the months since, I’ve run that decision over in my mind a million times.

 

Was I right? Was I wrong? Could I have given Trump the margin of victory with my one stupid vote?

 

When I examine all the information I had at the time, it still makes sense.

 

The media was telling us that there was no way Trump could win. Clinton was going to come storming into the White House and continue or worsen the neoliberal policies of Barack Obama.

 

As a school teacher, I was concerned that she would continue to wage war on public education – she would continue to boost charter schools and standardized testing while shrugging at funding inequity, increased segregation and the school-to-prison pipeline.

 

It’s not that I didn’t realize Trump would be worse. It’s that I didn’t think Clinton would be that much better.

 

But had she won, I don’t think I would be suffering the same anxiety.

 

We would have a sane and sensible leader who wouldn’t do anything much to make things better, but certainly wouldn’t be plunging us into an abyss. She wouldn’t betray every single American value while blatantly using her office for personal gain and gaslighting anyone who had the temerity to point out what was happening in plain sight.

 

So maybe some of it is guilt in my case.

 

Maybe I caused all this chaos. But I’ve looked at the numbers and that doesn’t add up.

 

Even if my position as a blogger who criticized Clinton (and Trump) convinced thousands of voters to cast ballots like I did, I could not have significantly affected the outcome.

 

But on those days of doubt and depression, I still feel guilty.

 

This is not the world I want to live in.

 

Things would be different if I thought there were any real hope of change.

 

Sure Trump may be defeated. If there’s a blue wave in the midterms, the orange one may be impeached. Or he may find it increasingly difficult to continue his corruption and be ousted in 2020.

 

But long term I don’t see much changing.

 

The Democrats are almost as corrupt as the Republicans.

 

Don’t give me this false equivalency crap. I’m not saying they’re the same. The Democrats are unequivocally better. But with the exception of social issues, their policies are almost the same as Republicans. The only difference is timeframe.

 

Republicans will destroy the world tomorrow. Democrats will destroy it next week.

 

And the system is just not set up to offer any challenge to the duopoly.

 

I desperately want to believe that insurgent progressives like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Zephyr Teachout will somehow wrest control of the Democrats and steer the party back to real populist goals, but on most days it’s hard to keep that hope alive.

 

On those days it seems like the rich and powerful own our government and will never allow us to take it back no matter how many of us try to vote, no matter how often we take to the streets, no matter what we do.

 

We live in a world of shit.

 

And none of it will ever change for the better.

 

I don’t want to feel this way.

 

I still want to believe that the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.

 

But on most days that feels like an illusion.

 

Is that a mental disorder? Or do I finally see the world for the way it is?

 

I have no answers.

 

Perhaps this article has no point.

 

I only offer it as a mark of solidarity.

 

If you’re feeling this way, you are not alone.

 

There are many more out there like you.

 

I don’t know how we get through this or even if we can. But this much seems certain.

 

If we are to survive, the only way is together.

 

So I send out this missive of hope and fear with all my love and a big virtual hug.

 

Be kind to each other. We’re all we’ve got.


 

For a peak at my views on more positive days, see HERE and HERE.


 

Like this post? I’ve written a book, “Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform,” now available from Garn Press. Ten percent of the proceeds go to the Badass Teachers Association. Check it out!

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14 thoughts on “The Only Way to Survive Trump is Together

  1. I don’t have “Trump Anxiety Disorder”. Living in California with the Sierra Nevada Mountains, vast deserts, and the Rocky Mountains physically dividing the west coast from the rest of the country helps but the fact that California, Washington State, and Oregon all voted against Trump helps the most because I think the West coast and Hawaii would probably leave the union if Trump becomes America’s Putin, by getting rid of term limits and establishes a Trump Dynasty to match North Korea Kim family.

    In California, Trump lost by 8.75 million to his 4.48 million votes, Oregon was more than 1 million to Trump’s 782.4k, Washington state was 1.74 million to Trump’s 1.2 million, and Hawaii was almost 267k to Trump’s 128.8k. The Kremlin’s Agent Orange lost the West coast by huge margins and I suspect that is going to grow to even larger margins in the 2018 midterms. Washington state is also home to one of the US’s largest nuclear arsenal so West Coast America could quickly end yo with one of the largest nuclear weapons countries in the world should it decide to split from Trumpland.

    But I do have “Trump Exhaustion”. Too much of Trump’s fake news wears me down and causes a sleep disorder, so I struggle each day to ignore Trump’s endless lying blather, shut it off, sometime between noon and 3 pm and after 6 pm to spend at least a half hour or more listening to music that helps erase Trump for a few hours so I can sleep at night.

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  2. I get it. But I still have choices, I can’t let this eat me up. How I’m combatting this is by limiting my time on social media, focusing on positives around me and what I can do to promote positives. One of the things I did get from social media is Robert Reich’s suggestions for how to engage people in political conversation. Avoid using names of any one politician or political party, focus on the problems, ask questions like “Why do corporations get all the breaks?”. Using names leads straight to name-calling and making it personal.

    And by the way, I sympathize with you about the GOP governor candidate you have facing you. Why should retired teachers be forced to return their pensions? Why would teachers do better if they didn’t have breaks? Doesn’t every worker deserve a break? (It seems like he’s got a deep-seated grudge against a teacher, doesn’t it?)

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    • Tom, you’re talking about Scott Wagner, right? He is such a fool. I hope Pennsylvania voters aren’t dumb enough to fall for his idiocy, but you know what they say about no one ever going broke betting on the stupidity of the public…

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      • Yes, that’s the one. The good news is that I only heard about him through my friends and former colleagues in PA. It sounds like he is carrying a personal grudge. Why does he think anyone would want to teach in PA and be treated like that?

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  3. My anxiety is getting almost out of hand as we approach the new school year. As far as I know, I was one of two teachers who did not vote Trump in my building. There were a lot of “amens” the day after he was elected. Many colleagues continue to celebrate to this day. These are public school teachers. I don’t understand. And I’m not excited to go back to work.

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    • I am so sorry you have to work in such a topsy-turvy environment. It’s hard to believe a group of educated teachers could be so ignorant about issues that affect them, personally. But some people can’t see passed their own noses. My advice is to close the door and just teach your heart out. The kids will make it all worthwhile.

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    • If you don’t live in one of the remote areas of California that voted for Trump, California also has a growing shortage of teachers. Stick to the major cities and you will have a hard time finding anyone that voted for Trump. In California, most Trumpsters are learning they are heavily outnumbered and are not advertising their choices. There are a few who are too stupid to know those read MAGA hats are like painting a target on their foreheads.

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      • I live and teach in SoCal. I find the further from Los Angeles I go, the more conservative it gets. Those folks we saw dissing the CNN reporter last week? They look a lot like what I see once I get to Rancho Cucamonga and that’s less than an hour’s drive from downtown L.A. Remember too that California is the state of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan.

        As for teacher shortages, I’m not seeing them yet. There’s even less of a shortage of administrators, there are a whole lot more of them it seems.

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      • Have you seen the election results map for California that shows where Trump won the majority popular vote? You must live in one of those areas.

        Here’s the link to that map.

        https://www.politico.com/2016-election/results/map/president/california/

        I lived in Rancho Cucamonga for about 10 years and drove to La Puente in LA Country where I taught.

        San Bernardino County went for Clinton but not by that large of a margin. You can scroll down from the map to see the results for each county.

        Look at San Francisco County. and Contra Cota County where I live. The margins are huge in favor of Clinton.

        There might be a way to break the country where you teach down by precinct votes to find a school where the majority voted against Trump.

        I might have found that map:

        http://www.latimes.com/projects/la-pol-ca-california-neighborhood-election-results/

        If you can isolate the local areas, you might discover a school even in the same district that is a better fit for you.

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      • I don’t teach in one of those schools, I teach closer to L.A. The discussion my school had the day after the election was how we were going to make those kids (who now had good reason to feel vulnerable) that they were in a place where they were welcome and wanted.

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