Like most Americans I stopped visiting whitehouse.gov when it became an adjunct of Breitbart and Fox News. But it’s worth visiting once in a while, if only for the unintentional humor. This, for instance, from just a month ago:
At a time when many Americans are experiencing increased stress, anxiety, and personal loss, we must also ensure that our country can meet the mental health needs of those struggling in this crisis.
That was part of an executive order from Donald J. Trump (he signed it!) recognizing the negative impact of prolonged shutdowns on mental and behavioral health and the need to increase suicide prevention efforts.
He should know. Nobody is more responsible for America’s state of psychological disrepair than Mr. Trump himself, and the fact that he is our president during the worst crisis in 160 years has only exacerbated the problem.
Now before you go saying that this is another liberal complaint, the problem—like the virus—has crossed party lines. Republicans are just as mentally stressed as Democrats at this point, and in both cases the catalyst is Trump.
The Republicans who either supported him at the outset—or came around unwillingly—may have begun as adherents of this so-called outsider and even relished his stance against political correctness. But when that brashness degenerated into rudeness and malevolence, misogyny and xenophobia, mendacity and drivel, these very same people were forced to be rude and malevolent themselves—if not in their day-to-day existence, at least in their political personas. They had to defend their boy as he became more and more indefensible. For many of these defenders, such behavior was alien and created conflicts in their own minds, forcing them to take positions they didn’t fully accept themselves. Today we hear relatively normal people—and close to 40% of Republicans—adopting an entirely wrongheaded position on the recent election, even though most of them know they’re wrong. They fear a vengeful leader. What does that do to mental stability?
The Democrats' problem was less complex but just as persistent. They loved President Obama whom Trump had made the target of an early spurious campaign—the birther fiasco. Then as president, Trump tried to roll back everything Obama had accomplished, never mind that it brought misery to Democrats and Republicans alike regarding health care, the environment, and voting rights, to name a few. For Democrats, the idea of a philistine and his spawn roaming through the White House where Barack and Michelle had once lived was difficult to accept, and driving him out became an obsession—from the Women's March, through the Mueller probe, through impeachment, and finally with the recent election of Joe Biden as president.
Blood pressures have risen and other medical conditions have been aggravated in the past four years. Biden’s election could have lowered those pressures and the temperature—could have given reasonable Republicans less reason to defend the indefensible, and given Democrats a reason to stop obsessing. In simple terms, it could have mitigated the general level of mental anguish on both sides. It didn’t happen: one toxic influence remains. Donald J. Trump.
Over a thousand Americans a day are dying from Covid-19, hospitals are swamped, and medical workers are overworked—and the president is paying no attention, much as he has done since April. He's looking out for the only person he cares about. Donald J. Trump. So here in November 2020, we are running the country. We're in charge. Us. Private citizens. Police. Firefighters. Doctors. Plumbers. Salesmen. Teachers. The guy in the drive-thru window and the leaf picker-uppers. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents. Can we handle this until January 20, 2021? Yes, if we can keep our sanity. Or regain it.