The last five years have slowly eroded the mental health of millions of Americans. The trauma will not leave us when Trump does.
Since 2016, Trump has had a target planted firmly on the backs of the most marginalized communities in America- Undocumented Immigrants, Transgender people, Black Americans, Muslim Americans… we have been the victims of psychological warfare that few of us have the faculties to process and remain healthy.
From banning Trans people from the military, stripping us of our healthcare equality and challenging whether or not we are covered beneath the 1964 civil rights act, to Black America watching him retweet a video of a man yelling “White Power” to a group of Black Lives Matter protesters while claiming that symbolism representing the Black Lives Matter movement “denigrates wealthy neighborhoods” we have sat helplessly and endured an endless barrage of emboldened insults, offensive displays of white, straight cisgender superiority and efforts to weaponize legislation against us.
Most of us have had to witness a bizarre collapse of common sense and simple human decency as everything we know to be true and good has been challenged and shifted. We are asked to thumb our nose at science, data, facts, experts and pummel anyone who deviates from Trumpist beliefs as purveyors of Fake News. We’ve sat in shock over and over again as our President suggests blowing up hurricanes with nuclear bombs, dubs himself the “Chosen one” by God, refers to Mexican as rapists and murderers, claims we should inject ourselves with disinfectant to avoid getting sick, expresses a desire to buy Greenland- a country that is not for sale- attacks congresswomen of color, holding rallies where his supporters hurl racist slurs and chant “Send her Back.”
We listen to conversations like this on broadcast television…
TRUMP: I don’t believe Putin had anything to do with attacking out election despite what 17 Special Intel Agencies, the FBI, CIA and Department of Justice says.
REPORTER: Putin, did you help elect Trump?
PUTIN: Yes, I did.
…But are supposed to pretend we never heard it.
We are not allowed to call him a racist, not even after his “White Power” retweet, or despite his referring to African Nations as ‘Shitholes’ and even bringing that venom-spewing back home to refer to Baltimore, Maryland, home of Black Senator Elijah Cumming who opposed him- and who has since passed away- as a “Disgusting, rodent infested mess,” and doubled down days later saying living in Baltimore would be like “Living in hell.” The Baltimore population is more than 63% Black.
We have to pretend things are normal when he calls Black Americans who peacefully protest “Sons of Bitches” while praising White protesters as “Great People!” who carry AK47’s and AR15 assault rifles into the state houses of his opposition party because he’s dog-whistled them to do so. “Liberate Wisconsin! Liberate Michigan” He tweeted of states that had Democratic Governors and had imposed lock-downs as a strategy to combat the spread of Coronavirus, which has now killed more that 130,000 Americans.
We must act as if putting State Leaders in danger is absolutely okay.
We are told we have not heard what we heard and never saw what we have seen and must divorce ourselves from reality in order to be a patriot. Otherwise, you hate America.
For years now, those of us who have, by the virtue of things we learned in the sandbox as children, been pointing out how frightening and absurd this is for anyone to accept… but now, we are the villains. We who have not been swept into the riptide of Trumpism are given derogatory names for our resistance to the upside-down world we now inhabit. Ridiculed just as he ridicules other leaders in Senate and Congress who disagree with his divisive, dangerous antics. Shifty (Adam) Schiff, Sleepy Joe (Biden), Wacko John (Bolton,) High Crime Nancy (Pelosi,) Cheatin’ (Barack) Obama, Low- I.Q. Maxine (Waters) and literally hundreds more inflammatory childlike nicknames for anyone who criticizes him- so many there’s an entire Wikipedia entry dedicated to his nicknames for his enemies.
Normal for a President, at least one who regularly made cameo appearances in televised wrestling matches where he’d hit someone over the head with a metal chair and walk off to thunderous applause.
We’ve watched him mock disabled people to massive cheers from his followers, threaten to punch a protester in the face at his rally, claim windmills cause cancer, and verbally attack the Mayor of Puerto Rico just after it was catastrophically flattened by Hurricane Maria in 2017. Trump toured the devastation to pass out Paper Towels to survivors. Not bad enough? We watching him take to twitter to bully a 14 year old little girl for being a climate change activist and wanting to create a sustainable future for her own generation and future ones. He sent thousands of his followers to abuse her on the social media platform.
His policies have wreaked havoc on America’s wildlife conservation and reversing over 100 protections for natural resources, many of them implemented by former President Barack Obama, Trump’s self appointed archenemy. Since elected, despite losing the popular vote, most of Trump’s measurable efforts have been devoted to erasing the presence of the first and only Black President in history.
But we’re not allowed to call him racist.
Terrorists; that’s what he has calls those Americans asking for confederate monuments celebrating murderous, racist figures in history to be removed. Trump signed an executive order to protect them instead, claiming they are sacrosanct, when Black Americans expressed outrage for having to live in a country that exalts their historical abusers and oppressors from the era of slavery.
Trump has divided the nation into two halves- those who have pledged their unwavering loyalty to him and agree with everything he does and says, and those who reject his hate-fueled propaganda, racism, transphobia, xenophobia, hypocrisy and endless stream of well documented lies that we aren’t allowed to discuss without being attacked by one of his red-hat wearing flagellants.
And then comes Coronavirus.
And America could not have suffered a more perilous threat while having to rely on the most dishonest president in history. A man who feared more for his re-election than the lives of those he took an oath to protect. This is truly a Perfect Storm Scenario. Trump has claimed to know more than the doctors advising us, contradicting their guidance at every turn. He knows more than the experts on virology and immunology, claiming they’d have us a vaccine at warp speed- an impossible feat. He told us at first it would be gone within a month or two with only eleven people sick, now projections state we will pass 200,000 deaths by November 1st. He peddled medications that didn’t work, but killed more people instead. Analysts claim Trump lied nearly 20,000 times in his first term as President. Often ridiculous, unnecessary lies.
In the era of Trumpism, families have fallen apart due to their differences in allegiance. People who refuse to accept fiction as fact, illusion as reality and reject the normalizing of misogyny, hate and propaganda are at odds with those who see Trump as the anti-politician, a destroyer of the old corrupt systems; A big middle finger to the elitist institutions. Those who latched themselves onto Trumps world view are all in- they cannot be reasoned with, because in Trump nation, reason, rationality and logic no longer exist.
Coronavirus has demonstrated the weakening of America and the two tribes that have been borne from Trumpism. Everything is now political, and usually deeply conspiratorial for the Trump supporter. Refusing to wear a mask to avoid spreading a highly contagious virus is symbolic of solidarity between the Trump supporters and Trump, himself, who has refused, despite all evidence and expert data saying we should, to wear a mask.
In further rebuke of experts and scientific data, he held one of his famous self-aggrandizing rallies in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and only two weeks later the city experienced a surge in Coronavirus cases.
We who have not been thrust into the completely chaotic world of Trumpism have been left jarred and exhausted. As we have tried to reconcile the complete dismantling of verifiable truths and been routinely persecuted for defending it, we have found ourselves unwittingly pitted against a legion of zealots and a gas-lighting leader.
We are people who cannot focus on fighting a virus, but must fight our very own President and his acolytes in order to ensure our own survival. The rest of the world looks on and whereas once they laughed at Trump, now they are uncomfortably silent, speechless even, as Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau recently demonstrated when asked about Trump’s staggering approval of police violence against protesters, gassing them, shooting them with rubber bullets, and flash bangs, beating them with batons all so he could get a photo op holding a bible.
As America teeters on the verge of collapse, we are expected to thrive under the nefarious specter that is Donald Trump and his followers, who some experts have identified as a genuine cult, complete with cult-like chants, uniforms, rallies, paraphernalia and an unnatural loyalty to someone they have deified thus are incapable of acknowledging as ever guilty of wrongdoing.
We’ve sat and watched this happen, and it has terrified those of us who have clung to reality and observed the increasing madness of our fellow countrymen as they celebrate a Leader responsible for it crumbling around us.
The events of September 11th 2001 took place over a few, painful, unimaginable hours of terror and took years to heal. Trump has destroyed more of America than we ever dreamed possible, and the trauma from having been forced to watch it happen is just as palpable; Just as real. We often live in fear, especially those of us of minority communities, of what heinous thing he’ll do next. We move through a mire of Trump inflicted stress and anxiety while just trying to live our lives. We are challenged for wearing a mask during a pandemic. We watch his racist flagellants that he has empowered threaten people with assault rifles, we’ve watch alt-right media exalt his messaging that brands us traitors.
Donald Trump wants to be the President of a few.
Not me, possibly not you, unless you fall between the goalposts of being white, wealthy, christian, male, straight and cisgender. If you do not meet those requirements, he will not advocate for your freedom, for your safety, for your constitutional rights, all of which have been compromised as a result of his vicious leadership.
We are normal human beings in a situation that is radically abnormal, and the further we stray from reality, the more it effects our mental health. In 2019, a study published showed that Trump has been detrimental to the mental health of Americans- good people who have been the collateral damage of his merciless hate campaign that has killed thousands upon thousands and radicalized our friends, family, neighbors and colleagues.
They like to refer to those of us who demand this stop as suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome, another abusive insult to dismiss anyone with credible concerns for ourselves, our allies and our country. Again, we’re gas lit by those who have been taught we’re the enemy of America. Now, we stare down the barrel of the gun that is the 2020 Election, from the middle of a global pandemic and in the throes of social conflict…
…To ask the question to whom this is normal is redundant. Trump supporters and Trump himself love this new normal. They’ve worked for it. Shaped it from their own prejudices. They flourish in the disjointed wreckage they have created. They cannot see how it should have ever been any different.
We ask ourselves, where does that leave the rest of us?