Get our newsletters

Chatterbox: A nation exhausted


In Chatterbox, Feb. 6 of this year, I talked about what great expectations I thought 2020 held; it was such an aesthetically pleasing number, so balanced, so round … well roundish, and I had such great hopes that the 2020 election results would bring an end to much of the political noise.

However, the 2020 campaign season really started when the election results in November of 2016 bowled everyone over. That’s not to say that everyone who voted for Hillary was a fan. Many people were over the Hill before the primaries opened, but we still feel blessed to ever have that choice. The election process is half-baked, and the candidates aren’t always even the choice of the people. However, nominating committees, the Electoral College and the control they were literally designed to wield is a topic for another day.

The 2016 campaign season itself wasn’t even like anything ever seen before. It left us spinning and exhausted, and everyone was craving the usual post Inauguration lull and settling into business at hand. However, even after the votes were counted and Trump was sworn in, this incredible and unceasing circus has not arrested a single ring. In fact, in the years since, the show under the tent has only grown. The years since that election remain unparalleled in their level of frenzy. In that way, that election buzz never ended; it just became that of the 2020 campaign. I, for one, wake up every morning looking for a nap, and that hasn’t been the case since I had my iron deficiency remedied two decades ago.

We’ve got the daily tweets, the replies, the comebacks, the one-ups, the news camps unavoidably taking sides, the spinning of the truth, the misinformation and distractions galore. Most unprecedented, truthfully, are the outright overt demands for allegiance to the person of the president instead of the office of the presidency; it’s dizzying.

No one can keep up with the changes either … literally. Policies, positions, committee heads, chiefs of this and secretaries of that coming and going at breakneck speed. It seems that there’s just too much upheaval, always, and we’re all burned out regardless of which side we rally around.

Many of us hoped 2020 would usher in some level of calm and sensibility with its new aesthetic, new decade, and new presidential campaign. We hoped that the new campaign would deliver us a more seasoned Trump offering the nation the opportunity to see the more diplomatic and poised side of himself as he volleyed topics, in earnest, with Republican challengers.

I believe even his critics were hopeful for Trump. From the beginning, average Americans wanted him to do well; it’s human nature. We wanted desperately to see him present his very best and wisest self, and bring dignity to the White House. (That sound you hear in the background is Cher slapping me and hollering, “Snap out of it.”) Unfortunately for everyone including, I feel, Trump himself, we were all left high and dry on that metamorphosis.

Ironically, even hauling all the baggage from his first term, still unseasoned, implacable, and too often distracted from America’s real importance and impact around the world, he runs unchallenged for re-election. Worthy challengers are too unwilling to publicly engage so erratic a personality, or risk hard earned careers by shadow-boxing with anyone so completely unencumbered by consistency, transparency, truth, or facts.

When we combine that with the thralldom of his highly invested associates and willing subjects in their scurry to please him, the promising 2020 has tanked. Now, yoked with a pandemic unparalleled in the experience of most living Americans, even at this early juncture, there seems to be no zen on the horizon, this year. To think, I was in a hurry for 2019 to be over, and I’m sure I wasn’t alone … what could we have been thinking?

Maybe Trump’s personality is high maintenance, and he seems to thrive on the constant upheaval. Even his supporters must understand that the drama, more than anything else, seems to keep him fueled. Some may see that as how he keeps his edge. We all have our fonts of inspiration, and chaos has long been recognized as the feeding trough for certain personality types.

Still, it doesn’t work for the majority, and that constant fracas creates an upheaval that can’t help but draw many of us to desire and pursue change, to try a new approach. Maybe that’s what fuels our pressing need to keep circling our wagons.