Aldous Huxley famously explored the idea of drugging yourself up to remain happy in his novel Brave New World. Since then, other works, such as The Giver, have asked the simple question of “if negative emotions can be destroyed, should they?” Well, since 1/20/2017, President Trump has been asking that question all the same regarding the public, and his answer is “absolutely.” The President himself, in fact, would very much like to be that drug, and the COVID-19 pandemic has put this into high gear.
In the past, I’ve shown consider over the trend of making politics into nothing more than a rock concert. This is not my metaphor, it was how Karlyn Borysenko described a Trump rally while on PragerU:
Inside, the atmosphere was electric — more like a rock concert than a political event. People were dancing and having a fantastic time. They were actually enjoying themselves.
Of course, when I think of a rock concert that’s also a political event, I think of In The Flesh (Part 2) from Pink Floyd: The Wall. For those who haven’t seen it, the film showed a rally where a fascist calls for the death of gay people, black people, Jews, people who smoke pot, and people with acme. The last line spoken by Pink, the fascist speaking, was even “if I had it my way, you’d all be shot.” “You’d all,” by the way, refers to everyone in the audience, and not just all the minorities.
Oddly, this film includes some of the best takedowns of fascism I’ve seen in a long while. In the movie, for example, the fascist logo is made out of hammers, because fascism turns a person into nothing more than a tool used by someone else to advance a cause. In an earlier draft of the film, this was going to be taken as far as having the entire audience blow up — of course, they’d all die clapping.
Before we continue, I want to make one thing clear, I am not getting into the debate about rather Donald Trump is a fascist or not. However, similar to fascism, Trumpism also turns its followers into nothing more than a tool to be used by The Donald. I cannot even say “it seems like if Trump ordered his supporters to be killed at a rally, they’d still be cheering,” because that is objectively the case.
Trump infamously told Bob Woodward on 3/19/2020:
I wanted to always play [COVID-19] down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.
Of course, the people who didn’t panic are now being attacked for not panicking hard enough. At the second debate, Donald Trump said the following about his travel ban with China — one that proved to be horribly ineffective, might I add:
When I closed and banned China from coming in heavily infected, and then ultimately Europe, but China was in January — months later he was saying I was xenophobic, I did it too soon. Now he’s saying, ‘Oh, I should have, I should have, you know, moved quicker.’ But he didn’t move quicker; he was months behind me, many months behind me.
This is in reference to a Tweet Joe Biden sent on 3/18/2020, one day before Trump said he had been downplaying the virus, reading the following regarding Trump’s travel ban with China:
Stop the xenophobic fear-mongering. Be honest. Take responsibility. Do your job.
Of course, had Biden been a bit more panicked, maybe he wouldn’t have said such a thing.
During the second debate, the President gave us a message of optimism regarding COVID-19 — which seems to have gone over as well as Carter’s call for optimism during the Energy Crisis. However, this idea of everything being fine — even if you’re a dog sitting in a burning house — went well with his supporters. Matt Walsh of The Daily Wire tweeted:
What I will remember most from this debate is Trump insisting that we need to live our lives and keep society moving while Biden pushed fear, cowardice, and panic. Extremely stark contrast. The big takeaway.
While I understand the desire to be optimistic, a global pandemic is not the time for optimism. (And of course, this just so happens to be the one time Walsh is optimistic about anything.) It’s a time to be cynical, pessimistic, and skeptical of anything and everything coming your way — which are things Matt Walsh is usually very good at.
This goes back to his earlier comments about “panic.” A global pandemic resulting from a airborne, highly contagious illness, is the perfect time to panic, just a little. I’m not saying we should have been told the end is near or something along those lines, but a little more than saying we should be reopened by Easter — spoilers, we weren’t — would have been great.
Instead, what did we get:
They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They’d been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax.
I guess by Monday or Tuesday, it’s about two weeks. We will assess at that time and give it more time if we need a little more time. We have to open this country up.
Or this classic from Larry Kudlow:
We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] airtight, but it’s pretty close to airtight.
Again, this is because Donald Trump is part of the cult of optimism. A cult that has taken over politics, and our culture as a whole, over the past couple of decades. The idea that you can never feel anything negative, and that if someone is forcing you to do such a thing, they are always the bad guy.
This kind of thinking all started around the Reagan era or so, a man who most Americans did not like the policy of, but loved the personality of. Later on, George W. Bush warned of “serial exaggerator” Al Gore (a man who, of course, Bush could never given an example of him exaggerating) who dared to sometimes make Americans feel bad.
While that’s all good for your therapist, priest, or whoever to tell you, politicians should not be telling you that. Donald Trump is telling us that, and that should be the scariest part of his rhetoric.