Wednesday, April 5, 2017

A Theory

It's been five months since the election, eleven weeks since the Inauguration, and it seems that social media has finally stepped back from the edge. It used to be that every morning, my Facebook wall was plastered with Trump memes, and long angry threads featuring wild accusations of treasonous skullduggery in and around the White House. Suddenly, 90% of that is gone. It's been the same here at The Tempest. I haven't written a Trump-themed blog in quite a while. But not just Trump, I have written much less about political themes than I used to. Why?

Well, it's certainly not because Trump has stopped doing stupid things, and it's certainly not because the democrats have suddenly stopped being hysterical hypocrites. There's something else going on. I have a budding new theory and like all theories, it's incomplete and requires more research and testing...but that's not going to stop me from going off half cocked and writing about it anyway. Here goes.

The election of 2016 was like none other in my lifetime. There has always been bitterness and acrimony associated with presidential politics, but this seemed different, unprecedented. Most of this was due to the fact there hadn't been a candidate like Trump since maybe Andrew Jackson, but that was like 180 years ago and all current politicians,  except Nancy Pelosi weren't  around back then, so most people don't remember Andrew Jackson. Trump was the kind of candidate who provokes insanity both in his followers and his enemies. To his supporters, he can do no wrong. No matter what insane, unhinged thing comes out of his mouth, the diehards are there to provide context, to explain that what sure sounded like a bald face lie to the rest of us was actually a metaphor, or a shrewd tactic designed to achieve some objective invisible to all of us who can't keep up with his four  dimensional chess. Meanwhile, his enemies constantly imbued him with mystical powers of evil, actually believing that when it comes to destroying the country he really is playing four dimensional chess, that he really is capable of shrewd tactics. Every single unhappy thing that happens in the world is due to some nefarious Trumpian machination.

It never seems to occur to the Trump supporter that maybe his nascent administration has been one uninterrupted mistake after another because he's an amateur who doesn't have a clue what the hell he's doing. It also never seems to occur to his enemies that no, he isn't Sauron, and no, he possesses no dictatorial powers and can't, in fact, cast all gay people into a fiery furnace.

So, after a few months pass and Trump is shown to have feet of clay and begins to make a hash of things, his most ardent pre-election, pre-Inauguration fans start to maintain a kind of radio silence, slinking slowly away from the social media square hoping the rest of us won't notice. Meanwhile, those who had been the loudest in their warnings of the horrors that would befall immigrants/homosexuals/women/old people/dogs, can't help but notice that there are still immigrants here, still plenty of loud, rich and happy homosexuals, a host of prosperous and powerful women, loads of old people who haven't yet been thrown into the streets...and cute pictures of dogs are as prominent on Facebook as ever. In other words...life has a knack for going on.

The insanity of political rhetoric runs in direct relationship to the calendar. The closer you get to a major election, the dumber it gets, the more unreliable it gets, the more stark and partisan it gets. Therefore, the closer you get to an election, the less you should pay attention to political rhetoric. But the opposite is true. Most of us can't even be bothered with politics until an election comes along. The rest of the time we would rather argue about sports or play video games. After an election, most of us go back to living our lives, back to the Redskins' incompetent front office and the Legend of Zelda.

So, that's my theory. Things are never quite as horrible as the doomsayers predict, and when events start proving it, the loudest, angriest voices start taking time off for bad behavior. And we all are better for it. At least until the midterms.....sigh.