For the last four years, we have had every facet of our lives sucked into the bottomless vortex that is Donald Trump. He has consumed all the oxygen of our information biosphere, and all we are left to breathe are his inescapable farts. Trump is the drunkest, loudest traveling salesman on a layover at every airport bar or the person who launches into a desperate monologue once the subway doors shut. We are all hermetically sealed in a space too small to contain our lives and the yawning chasm of his bottomless need for attention. Trump has weaponized every lever of capitalism, media, and our very democracy itself into a byzantine horror-movie maze in which we are all trapped with seemingly no way out.
On the season premiere of Saturday Night Live, the cold open was a parody of what may turn out to be the only Trump/Biden debate of the campaign. Not only was it universally panned as possibly the worst debate in the history of American politics; but a vulgar affront to the very notion of human speech itself.
In the SNL bit, Jim Carey played Biden, and while pretty good — the bit suffered like all parody does in the Trump era. What do you do when every story coming out of the White House is indistinguishable from an Onion article? Having said that — there was one part that rang like a bell. A moment so heavy, I felt it deep in my bones.
At some point, as Alec Baldwin mimics the president’s endless hostile blathering and constant interruption, Carey pulls a TV remote out of his jacket pocket and presses a button that causes Trump to freeze. The impact was just OK as comedy — but as a broader concept — it was deep and visceral.
Trump has become a fully metastasized cancer who has fully infected every organ of our body politic, and there is no escape from the long shadow of his crapulence. He’s the bad smell you never get used to, because he is endlessly and constantly making sure there is NEVER a stasis that lasts long enough to get used to, regardless of how bad. Each new day requires a new low, a new indignity to keep engagement redlined at all times, and it is EXHAUSTING. As Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank so depressingly nailed it — the one constancy of the Trump presidency is that the worst day of it is always tomorrow. You are never given the chance to fully process whatever fresh hell dominated the news yesterday — because a new indignity is always just around the corner.
But what if that horrible sound went away?
Close your eyes and imagine what it would be like to go an entire 24 hours without hearing his voice, or swaying under the yoke of his omnipresent shittyness. How about a whole week? A Trumpless void where the debasement of the entire American enterprise was limited to less catastrophic forces. A life not unlike the one we all remember back on Earth One when times were simpler, and otherwise competent politicians were run out of the profession entirely just for making a weird noise with their mouth.
Imagine how your shoulders would drop if you didn’t have to worry whether we will be suddenly plunged into some extinction-level event as a result of the wounded grievance of our most privileged citizen.
Imagine a world no longer forced to bend to the shallow whims and limited cognitive ability of a septuagenarian toddler with no understanding of how anything works beyond the way it makes him feel.
Imagine public policy being more than instant hot takes shot straight from the wobbly hip of an elderly white man whose total understanding of the world is limited to what someone with little to no short term memory could retain from watching eight hours of FOX News a day.
Imagine what it would be like if all the resources of the American government didn’t have to legitimize the random brain farts of a person coddled beyond the ability to recognize a stupid idea.
What if I told you that YOU have that power?
You can make it all go away. You can help architect The Great Trumpless Void.
Two days ago, my ballot arrived at my door, and I don’t know if I have ever looked at an envelope the same way. I have literally walked across the house clutching it to my chest, afraid to set it down for fear of losing it. Never before have I understood more explicitly and desperately the power of the franchise, because it has never been under greater attack. You can tell how powerful that ballot is by looking no further than the amount of energy and time Trump and his minions have put into making it as hard as possible for you to use it. Donald Trump is a man of many fears, but none of them eclipses his fear of being ignored. Our ability to take away his power viscerally frightens him. He’s never had a job he could be fired from, and to a person who took perverse delight in turning the words “you’re fired” into a catchphrase — there is nothing more terrifying.
That ballot IS our remote control — we will finally be able to silence the horrible sound that has dominated every second of every day for the last four years.
The question is — have you had enough yet? Enough of the lies? Enough of the embarrassment? Enough of the constant moral freefall that never mercifully hits rock bottom?
You can make this stop. WE can make this stop. In fact, at the time of this writing, already over 6.6 million ballots have already been cast through early voting. While Trump can make it harder to vote — he can’t stop you. Plan your vote. Your best option is to vote early and in-person if at all possible, as Trump has clearly signaled his intention is to invalidate as many mail-in ballots as his local henchmen can get away with.
The tread-worn phrase “the most important election of your life” hardly cuts it anymore, much in the same way that the phrase “hottest year on record” doesn’t. This is something even bigger. This isn’t just an election between two candidates with attenuated policy differences — this is a decision on whether or not we are going to still have a democracy, period.
Are we going to begin that long journey back to Earth One, where the laws of political gravity still exist, or are we going to commit to the final slide into a minoritarian autocracy, one that will destroy every mechanism shy of violent bloodshed to reverse? There are no third parties in this election. I wish it was an exaggeration to say that quite possibly the entire American experiment is on the line here. Maybe even the notion of Western Liberal Democracy itself. A vote for anyone other than Joe Biden, flawed and imperfect as he may be, is an explicit vote not just to make Donald J. Trump the next American president — but very possibly the last American president.
YOU can make this nightmare end.