Since the election, Trump has been dominating the news even more than he did when he was merely campaigning, and that’s saying a lot.
I’m not talking about straight news like his Cabinet appointments. I’m talking about all the hype about the rigged election; the awfulness of the Electoral College and the need for electors to stage a revolt against Trump; how bad the Trump Grill is (I kid you not); his appointees as “swamp creatures“; and articles such as this one, which cannot be described adequately but which features the following sentence from its opening paragraph, “The Electoral College, an institution that helped to protect the white supremacist ignominy of black chattel slavery could now become the instrument used to stop Donald Trump, the avatar of contemporary white racism.”
Now that Trump really is acting more “presidential” and much less volatile, which at least theoretically ought to be somewhat reassuring (and is reassuring to people like me on the right, who’ve had grave doubts about Trump), a certain large segment of the left seems to have become more hysterical about Trump rather than less.
I think it’s for a number of reasons. Some are tactical—they want to de-legitimize Trump’s presidency in advance. They want to spark demonstrations and protests and civil unrest. But they also are genuinely dealing with their shock that this is going to happen and Trump will be president, as well as the dawning realization that he is more conservative and perhaps more competent than they had previously thought.
This latter appearance of conservatism and competence, if it pans out once Trump is president, accounts for a goodly portion of my relative calm and guarded optimism about a Trump presidency. Those same things would fill a lot of people on the left with dread, and spark the question: what if Trump is a successful, conservative president? That may be as terrifying a prospect for many of them as the idea that he’s a madman.
And then of course there’s all the news about Russia and Putin influencing the election. That’s ironic on many levels, but one of them is the fact that until Trump surfaced, the left pooh-poohed concern about Russian influence. Another is that all Putin and the Russians are alleged to have done is reveal the truth about Hillary and the DNC. And of course there’s no evidence that the information turned the tide with voters who were far more concerned with things like getting jobs back and putting up a wall.
But the question of what is truth about Russian influence on the election is meant to be lost in the fog of allegations and counter allegations. You can wade through some of them yourself here; rumor and counter-rumor and speculation and lots of sturm, drang, and fog.
In other news that seems unrelated but really isn’t, we have the case of the Muslim student in NY who had alleged that three Trump supporters harassed her in a NY subway station. Now it’s revealed that the story was a lie. But this was a story that I had earlier chosen to disregard, and why? Because the minute I read it I felt there was a good chance her story was bogus.
I didn’t start out making such assumptions, but over and over we’ve seen such stories fall apart. I assume that some Muslim woman somewhere is being harassed by someone on the right (as opposed to being harassed by her family, which seems far more common). But so many such tales have been hoaxes that “hoax” has now become my default position, I’m afraid.
And that’s the sort of overload a lot of people are experiencing. Some of it is from “fake news,” some from the spin put on real news stories, some from the fact that so many controversial stories are based on reports from unnamed “sources.” We are all conspiracy theorists now, which makes it harder and harder to unite as a country.