We’ve spent a good deal of time making fun of snowflake millennial incapable of sitting through a politics class without being triggered by ideas they don’t like here at the Banter. The victimhood culture being adopted by students around the country, who — let’s be honest — probably don’t have a huge amount to complain about, is not only incredibly annoying, but poses a serious risk to their intellectual development.
Nevertheless, as any psychologist will tell you, “triggering” is a real phenomenon and shouldn’t be dismissed because Ivy League college students are desperate to protest about, well, anything. The words and actions of others can indeed induce bouts of anxiety and depression, and can cause people suffering from PTSD to relive past traumas. And I am beginning to understand just how real this phenomenon actually is.
Recently, I wrote about being “Trumped Out” from following and covering the presidential election day in and day out. The mental exhaustion I’ve felt is as real as anything, and I literally cannot wait until this sordid, disgusting episode in American political history is over. The day Donald Trump fucks off back to his golden plated monstrosity of a home for good is the day civilized people the world over can get back to being normal human beings again.
Every day, I wake up and check the news to see what unthinkable thing Trump has said or done, and without exception it is always deeply, deeply disturbing. Trump’s continued assault on everything decent is having a more profound effect on my emotional state than I have recently been able to admit. His grotesque treatment of women, his lying, his belittling of minorities, the disabled, and anyone opposed to him is as upsetting as it is enraging, and I find myself wanting to do him and his supporters serious physical harm. Of course this instinct to engage in violence makes me no better than Trump and his revolting supporters, so I find ways to keep myself calm and avoid the rage.
It has been a constant struggle, and as election day nears I’m finding it even harder to control. The fact that Trump is almost certainly going to lose in the most embarrassing fashion is a small consolation, but the damage he has done, and is doing, is lasting.
Perhaps Donald Trump needed to happen to America and the world. His repugnant presence in the limelight gives us all a chance to look at our own psyches and confront the darkest elements of our nature. Trump is basically triggering us all and forcing us to come to terms with what, and who we are as a species. The darker elements of humanity are rallying around him and giving into their base instincts of greed, narcissism, hatred, and fear, while the rest of us struggle to find out better angels and rise above it all.
One thing I have found that helps with the relentless triggering is to remember the gracious words of Michelle Obama — a woman with more dignity in her little finger than every single member of Donald Trump’s campaign team combined.
“When they go low, we go high,” she told an audience of worried voters.
“With every word we utter, with every action we take, we know our kids are watching us,” she went on. “We, as parents, are the most important role models. And let me tell you, Barack and I take that same approach to our jobs as President and First Lady, because we know that our words and actions matter.”
“Kids like the little black boy who looked up at my husband, his eyes wide with hope, and he wondered: is my hair like yours? And make no mistake about it, this November when we go to the polls: that is what we’re deciding. Not Democrat or Republican, not left or right. No, in this election and every election, is about who will have the power to shape our children for the next four or eight years of their lives.”
The Obamas — and Hillary Clinton — have amazingly remained calm and dignified in the face of the Trump campaign’s despicable tactics, and are providing a template for how to respond to it. And that is to not respond to it at all, and just keep on moving.
We’ve got a month left of this horror show, and there will no doubt be more drama and more incomprehensibly disgusting behavior from the Trump campaign — but I am determined to not let this bigoted megalomaniac get the better of me. And you shouldn’t either.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.