Samantha and I tuned in to the first Trump/Clinton debate tonight. For the past year I’ve looked around at all the debates and rallies and news coverage, and like a lot of others I’ve felt like I’m living in a world that’s been telling the same bad joke for far too long. Things are really bad right now. I’ve largely detached myself from the news since school began, in part because I was going to be too busy to totally obsess over things the way I usually do when I’m on the couch with a moment to myself, but also because that obsession has done bad things to my mood in general. There are times when I become so depressed at the state of things, shaped by chaotic headline after chaotic headline, that I can’t work or go outside or generally function.
For me, Trump has become a sort of figurehead for all of that, a living expression of a weird sickness that’s infecting things. I feel 100% better when I don’t expose myself to the sickness. That doesn’t make it go away, of course; I’m not denying that things continue to be bad when I separate myself from them. But reading and watching all of this happen from day to day does me no favours. I know I can be a productive person and live a life that’s of some value to myself and others. But I can’t believe that when I feel infected.
I’m betting Clinton trounces Trump and Americans eventually take a good look around and wonder what the hell they were thinking, how the hell they let things get to this point. They’re already asking those questions. But they don’t yet seem to be fully acknowledging how the media have intensified this beast, have fed it with people’s fear and pain and helplessness to the point where it’s become this bloated, deformed representation of life in the modern age.
I want to believe things aren’t getting increasingly worse, that the way things are is the way they’ve been for a while, that we’re simply getting a better look at things now and realizing how terrifying they truly can get. It’s only when we can admit the terrifying monstrosity to ourselves that we can finally stop denying its existence and work together to defeat it. I guess we’ll see if that’s possible come November.