I once hated Donald Trump. Pull out all the clichés and shuffle them like a deck of cards. Pick any one of them and that’s exactly how I felt: with the power of a supernova, with every fiber of my being, with the force of a thousand suns. I couldn’t hear his name without feeling my gut clench up in disgust.
I blamed him for the complete destruction of the party I once loved, but in hindsight, he never had that power. If every principle I believed my party represented ended up in ashes, that demonstrates a rot from within. The form of the chosen destructor could have been anyone really, the fact that it was Trump doesn’t mean much.
It started on that day most of us will have seared into our memories, in June of 2015, when he descended slowly down the escalator in Trump Tower to the throbbing tune of Neil Young’s "Rockin' In The Free World," jutting jaw in the air, waving, giving his favorite thumbs up gesture. I remember thinking he looked like an idiot.
Watching his speech, I was laughing my ass off - this was some of the funniest TV I’d seen in a long time. He was making such a colossal jackass out of himself, and I enjoyed it. I wanted to get a bucket of popcorn to go with it. His inflammatory remarks about Mexico only fueled my belief that he’d be going down like the Hindenburg in short order.
A lifelong conservative, I was almost high on the pure joy of having the best damn bench of Republican candidates in my lifetime. This was going to be too much fun. Rick Perry! Ted Cruz! Marco Rubio! Rand Paul! Carly Fiorina! Be still, my heart!
Imagine my surprise and shock when, after all that incoherent blather, Trump only gained momentum. OK so you don’t have to imagine it, I assume anyone reading this experienced that same feeling. Unless you’re my brother in the uber-liberal Austin, Texas. He called it from Day One. He called me and said, “Anne, Trump is going to be our next president.” I howled with laughter, told him he was nuts. He spent the entire election season trolling the crap out of me. Soon, I wasn’t laughing.
* * *
I’ve loved the game and glory and shame and buzz of politics for as long as I can remember. My dad had me reading William F. Buckley Jr. before I had my driver’s license. This election was like heroin for me - I was utterly obsessed, and my mild Twitter habit turned into a full-blown addiction. I spent hours every day in a crazed state of cramming in as much news as I could while commenting, mocking, joking, fighting, high-fiving, retweeting and making DRAMATIC CAPS-LOCK PRONOUNCEMENTS and Trump meme gifs. I was in my element.
I looked forward to the debates like some people look forward to a Star Wars movie. I’d get a bottle of wine, snacks, clicker in hand (“remote control” for you Yankees), volume up, instructions to the kids to stay quiet or get out of the room.
As I started watching the first debate, the bubble burst. Trump was like a bull in a china shop, thrashing around and knocking every sense of order and decorum to the floor. The room thundered with loud boos and hoots and hollers. His now infamous battle with Megyn Kelly overshadowed anything else, and he whined like a petulant toddler. Twitter erupted into flames as the conversation turned into whether or not Kelly was “fair” to Trump.
At this point, I thought “OK he looked like a complete ass, he’ll be dropping out any time now.” A lot of us believed that, that he wouldn’t last through the holiday season. We all know how that turned out. I started to seethe with anger at the way things were going. It wasn’t right. It wasn’t fair.
Once the primary season began, I was no longer excited about the election. I was bitter, disillusioned and flat-out angry. The seedlings of hatred were planted.
Hope flared briefly when Ted Cruz pulled out a surprise win in the Iowa Caucus, but it was stomped out pretty quickly as Trump racked up the wins. It was fun to watch Cruz and Rubio (the latter finally getting his mojo going) team up to attack Trump, but deep down I had a strong feeling it was already over. We were toast.
Watching Trump taunt Rubio and Cruz was torture for me. I admired both of these men and believed they were the future of my party, and when Trump would pull that childish stunt of repeating “Little Marco” and “Lyin’ Ted,” with his jowly, sneering face, my blood didn’t just boil, it was like acid eating at my bones. I was livid, and heartbroken seeing decent men repeatedly mocked and insulted.
How did this megalomaniac jackass get the idol-worship and adoration of so many Americans? (Hint: Branding had a big part in it, as Dan so clearly explains here).
By the time of the National Convention in July of 2016, I no longer cared. The hurts were starting to heal and what was done was done. I watched it from a condo in Galveston, Texas while on vacation with my family. I was drinking Bloody Marys and still had sand on my feet from the beach. I plopped my feet up on the table on a beach towel spread over it in front of the couch so I could at least have some fun with it on Twitter.
I was really nervous about what Ted Cruz would have to say, so when he stuck to his principles and told people to vote their conscience, I nearly knocked over the drink pitcher as I got up and whooped and hollered with pride and joy. “That’s my guy!” I shouted, a big goofy grin on my face. Everyone else was watching Spongebob in the other room, so I cherished this moment by myself.
I was devastated when he eventually endorsed Trump, but it was the last time I ever will allow myself to feel that way again about a politician. I’ve learned my lesson. The heartbreak didn’t last that long, really. The passion I once had for politics was on its last dying gasp of life at that point.
So when Election Night 2016 came around, I didn’t really care what happened, and besides, we all knew what was coming. The Queen was about to be coronated, and that was that. The dreams from 2015 were dead.
I can’t lie, when Trump pulled out a shocker of a victory, I was not only stunned but elated. Not because I was suddenly a Trump fan, but to witness that historical event was nothing short of astonishing.
* * *
The aftermath has been...illuminating. I knew the left would be heartbroken and upset, and I honestly understood that and empathized with the feeling. It hurts to see your dreams go up in smoke in front of your eyes. What I didn’t expect were the completely batshit crazy, unhinged, daily meltdowns. They rant and they rage and they predict the apocalyptic doomsday destruction of America in an unending stream of incoherent fear-mongering tantrums. It’s obscene. Many moderate conservatives have tried to extend olive branches to the left, hoping to work together in their opposition of Trump, and found themselves set upon by a pack of rabid, starving wolves.
I recently tried to find some new and interesting accounts to follow on Twitter, and I thought to myself it would be fun and inspiring to find some of my favorite authors. They shall go unnamed, but I’ll say this: people I once admired and respected for their beautiful and moving prose have Twitter feeds that often resemble the hysterical tone of an Antifa protest, with all the intellectual heft of Chelsea Handler. I wish I hadn’t ever gone looking for them. Their hatred consumes and cheapens them.
Hate does something dirty and foul to the soul. It sickens and weakens the strong. It makes the intelligent man look weak and pathetic. It takes something beautiful and corrupts it beyond recognition.
Theological writer Hosea Ballou once said that hatred is self-punishment. I can confirm that sentiment based on my own experience. For all of the time I wasted on hating Trump, I lost precious hours of my life where that energy could have been used for something good. I was miserable, bitter and had no patience for fools or anyone else for that matter. I was ugly and smug, and I’m embarrassed I ever let myself get that involved in something as stupid, yes, stupid - as a presidential election.
No matter who the president is, life goes on the way it always has. People who thrash around, bug-eyed, wild with rage and bitterness and hatred, are fools, no matter how book smart they may be. I was a fool, so I know the feeling well. I no longer hate Trump. I am apathetic about him. I might raise an eyebrow in amusement or roll my eyes in disgust here and there, but then I quickly move on to a cat gif and forget all about him. I highly recommend it.
“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world, but has not solved one yet.” - Maya Angelou
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Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.