It's Not Just the Pandemic. We're Traumatized Because of Trump and the MAGA Movement.

Look, I'm not disagreeing with the pair of doctors who wrote in The Atlantic that everyone is grappling  with at least residual emotional detritus from the Covid pandemic that fucked us up 4 years ago and that's why shit just seems so weird. I mean, how can you disagree with "In our lifetime, COVID posed an unprecedented threat in both its overwhelming scope and severity; it left most Americans unable to protect themselves and, at times, at a loss to comprehend what was happening. That meets the clinical definition of trauma: an overwhelming experience in which you are threatened with serious physical or psychological harm." Yeah, no shit. 

In my real job, I say all the time that we haven't dealt with the effects of that asshole virus, and not just with all the students who had formative experiences cockblocked by lockdown. Senior years of high school, first years of college, graduations, to have all that over Zoom is gonna mess you up. And I know too many people who had to handle the worst of Covid firsthand, who said goodbye to loved ones through windows, who had empty funerals. Fuck, my stepfather (who really was my dad in all but sperm) caught it and didn't treat it fast enough and it cashed in his check. Yeah, I'm traumatized, too.

But blaming Covid for the reaming of the American psyche lets too many motherfuckers off the hook. It's like you came home from a trip and found out that your house was robbed. That stinks, no doubt. It's a goddamn trauma And then you call the cops who ransack your house looking for evidence but find nothing they think is helpful and they tell you there's nothing they can do about it and they can't make out anyone's face on your doorbell camera and they're hungry and they empty your refrigerator while telling you how grateful you should be that they're there and don't worry because in the future they'll be able to do something but you're just kind of fucked right now, oh, well. Yeah, the robbery sucks. But everything else didn't need to suck so much, too. Now you're not only paranoid about crime but about the people who were supposed to fucking help you and you have a huge mess to clean up that you didn't make and wait, did someone shit on the bed? Was it the robbers or the cops? Fuck, it doesn't even matter anymore.

When we say that the pandemic has brain-raped us, we're letting the real rapists off the hook, and one of them is an actual and not metaphorical rapist. We don't definitely know if the start of the pandemic would have gone differently if literally anyone else had been president other than Donald Trump, but, c'mon, we know. We all fucking know. We all fucking watched as Trump played the raging dickhole with a panicked public, as if he could bully everyone into relaxing and just taking it. We watched him brag about the high ratings for his daily briefings in March and April as he moronically performed the part of an authority figure, suggesting that the pandemic would be over in a couple of weeks, that shit that didn't work or was outright dangerous would get rid of Covid, and then berating anyone in the media who tried to get him to acknowledge that people were dying in large numbers. That was fucking traumatic, too. Jesus, we were so traumatized by Trump's utter failure that we turned to Andrew Cuomo for comfort, and that led to a lot of us making walks of shame afterwards.

And it wasn't enough that Trump and the U.S. government was failing us horrendously, however much Anthony Fauci and a few others desperately attempted to offer comfort while warning us that shit was going to get really bad. We watched as millions of Americans, responding to Trump's refusal to treat the crisis like a crisis and not an opportunity, follow the worst fucking leaders in the nation to want to cause violence over mask-wearing or social distancing or online schooling. 

There was a calculated effort to tear this country apart, to set the red and blue states, hell, the red and blue regions within states against each other. Instead of unifying us, instead of demanding we all give a shit about each other, we had politicians earnestly saying that the elderly should just allow themselves to die so that we could get out and go shopping more. The leaders of the MAGA right wanted us at each other's throats, and that was even before the murder of George Floyd and the summer of Black Lives Matter protesters where our trauma was exacerbated by the failure of so many institutions around us.

And the anxiety and panic attack existence of the majority of Americans who are not Trumpist drones didn't come out of just the pandemic. No, no, no, we had already been through nearly 5 years of the rise of Donald Trump and the mainstreaming of open extremism in the form of the MAGA movement (Republicans had at least pretended to hide it pre-Trump). We had been through 3 years of the Trump presidency, with the threat of nuclear war with North Korea and the attempts to gut health care repeatedly and one goddamned impeachment investigation and vote. And then, going into 2021, we had January 6, election denialism, and anti-vax insanity, and then the eternal 2024 election and the multiple indictments of Trump that don't seem to go anywhere and the rise in MAGA violence and what the fucking fuck? How the hell are we supposed to process all of this? And I haven't even mentioned the conservative cockmites on the Supreme Court gutting precedents like abortion rights, something that was semi-stable for nearly 50 years, undermining confidence in the federal government to protect even the most basic right, to bodily autonomy. And let's not even get started on the wars around the world now and the United States's diminished position as a global power that nations can fully trust.

You can date it back to whenever you want: to January 6 or the start of the pandemic or the 2016 election or the MAGA hate rallies or when Trump came down his magical escalator in 2015, but it's way more than Covid. It's fucking everything. We're traumatized because we have lived nothing but trauma for years now with no break, and a click-driven media tries to act like this entirely abnormal time is totally normal when we know, we know it isn't. 

And if we can't appreciate what President Joe Biden has accomplished, maybe it's because we've seen how easily it can be taken away, whether it's civil rights or health care or infrastructure weeks that never arrive. The Trump years taught us how precarious it all is and we haven't done anything to build a nation that isn't constantly dancing on the edge of disaster. The last significant change to the Constitution was the 26th Amendment, lowering the voting age, and that was in 1971. (The 27th is from 1992 and is about congressional pay raises, and who the fuck cares?) The idea of the Constitution was that if it became apparent that something wasn't working, fucking fix it. But we don't do that in this country that worships the false idol of the imagined past.

We are stuck in this fucking doom loop, like a cosmic algorithm of despair is keeping our content chaotic. If it's the "era of bad feelings," as some have called it, it's not just the pandemic. It's because it's the Trump era. It's the MAGA era. It's the era of fucking around and not finding out so far for the fuck-arounds. Sure, though, the rest of us are finding out because it's making us feel like everything's a house of cards that's one breath from collapsing, from violence, from explosion, literal and figurative. 

And it's why we so desperately need Trump convicted and not just defeated at the polls. We need to say that someone is to fucking blame and punish them for it. It won't solve the trauma, but at least we know he won't be able to inflict more. Maybe then we can get to work restoring our feeling of safety in this America.

(Things I didn't cover here that contribute to our general anxiety every goddamn day: Our dumb fucking gun laws, school shootings, mall shootings, restaurant shootings, school lockdowns for shootings, shelter in place orders for shootings, street shootings, home shootings, accidental shootings...)