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Despair and Withdrawal


Since Trump’s election I’ve received a number of emails from people who say some version of, “Josh, I still love the site. But I’m signing off. Not just TPM, the news. It’s like drinking poison. I’m going to focus on my own stuff. Hopefully I’ll be back at some point.”

TPM Reader JC doesn’t say that. But there are common themes. “I find myself nearing a point where I am growing numb to the destruction,” he says at one point. I can certainly relate to some of these feelings. I don’t criticize. But on a broad canvas we can see how this silent battle is one of the critical ones underway in the country today, the slow war to grind people down until they withdraw from the public sphere.

From TPM Reader JC

I am a long time reader and appreciator of your fantastic website. Thanx for all you do to keep us informed. Just need to vent a bit.

The amount of malfeasance, rule-breaking, and illegal activity engaged in by this administration is staggering. For the first few years of Trump’s presidency, I was mainly angered by his desire to undo all that was done by President Obama, a leader for whom Trump could never come close to matching. Instead, Trump unleashed his raging inferiority complex’s desire to extract revenge for being slightly made fun of in a public setting by the former president. I was also angered at Trump’s governing cowardice at doing anything about Russia’s election interference. Instead, Trump publicly doubted his own intelligence agencies, the ones that are on our side, demeaning and ostracizing the agency in a way that caused devoted professionals to leave a career they loved. Supporting racism. Abandoning equal rights. Stealing military money to build an unnecessary wall. Assassinating foreign generals for talking mean about us. And so much more. And telling lies so often that one begins to doubt everything he says, regardless.

This is our President. What a piece of shit.

But now I find myself nearing a point where I am growing numb to the destruction. Trump is breaking everything. He is an oversized three year old with an inferiority complex and no adults in sight. The GOP has abandoned this country’s fundamental rules so brazenly that I wonder if we can ever recover. I read all Trump is doing and then look at the Democrats with hope. I am a fan of Warren, beginning to like Klobacher, and still think Biden would be a great choice.

But who is going to fix what is broken? Can it even be done?

My greatest fear when Trump was running was that he would change this country permanently. One could reasonably argue he’s already done that with the sheer amount of Federalist Society-supported right wing judges he’s gotten confirmed. But we are past that now. The judges were (and are) a warm-up act for the biggest steps yet to come. He is claiming his position above the law and his right to dictate law, to undo crimes already committed, and to commit whatever crimes he wants (they aren’t crimes when he does them, right?). He has his judges in place, and expects them to support his claims should they enter the courts. The Republicans are allowing this to happen. It is conceivable that, should Trump win a second term, he would pursue changing the term limits for a president. He joked about that in his first year. Now that he has true power, his thirst will never be quenched. He could truly become an American king. And his party will only aid and abet this theft of our American way of governing, our democracy.

Should we win, it is certain the Republicans won’t change what they are doing. We saw what happened with President Obama. (Mitch McConnell is equally deserving of “piece-of-shit” status.) The lawlessness of Trump will carry over into Congress, leading to non-stop investigations every time the Democratic president open their mouth. It is already difficult to pass legislation of substance. Do you think a future Democratic president would get even one piece of legislation through a Republican Senate or House?

And will the next president forego the power Trump is establishing? Which of ours will say no, should they be chosen?

Yes, I am growing numb. I am growing despondent, sullen, and anxious as well. This is my country. I’ve served in the military and volunteered at elections. I run a non-profit economic development organization focused on improving the quality of life for my diverse community. I love my life here, and want to believe it will continue for me and my daughters. But I fear it won’t. I fear we are at the tipping point, and I do not see any counter-balance that will prevent us from falling. Our candidates have great ideas. They always do. They also have very little chance at succeeding where they must, in the legislature. Trump has taught them the way: no compromise, no credit, no camaraderie, no cooperation. In other words, no way back.

In my bleak despair, I will continue to seek the light you and your team shine on all that is going on. I will do my best to recapture the positive attitude I carry most of the time. Hopefully, my fretting will be for naught. Again, thank you for all you do to help keep the spirits up of people like me.

About The Author


Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.