One of the things not specifically related to Trump that has driven me nuts these last few years is the rehabilitation of George W. Bush. In the run up to the 2004 election, it was impossible to imagine a worse president. We’re now nearly 20 years into his first war—almost half my life. The second war is technically over, but it’s been rippling ever since, and that’s the one that we thought would put the nail in the coffin of his reelection.
Well, so much for that. It didn’t take four more years for people to realize they had buyer’s remorse. Bush’s approval rating, which spiked after both 9/11 and the start of the Iraq War, quickly tanked. During the Bush years, we were outraged by the pointless, unwinnable wars, the horrible economic policies, and the assaults on the rights of many Americans, but it also felt like “well, that’s Republicans for you.” Their policies sucked, but there was a sense we’d get back on track as soon as we could elect a Democrat. What we didn’t have under Bush, was Bush living in our heads 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The policies and the war were bad, but you could occasionally put them out of your mind.
Well things are much, much worse now. The Bush years felt like standard shitty Republicanism, but it’s clear that what we’re dealing with now is not that. This is something else. There’s a real sense — shared by many, myself included — that we’re effectively done with this country as we know it if Trump wins a second term. I hope we don’t have to wait until the start of a second Trump term for the buyer’s remorse to kick in, because they’re not going to let us fix things after four more years.
To be honest, Trump’s policies are fine for somebody like me. None of the fascist stuff he does makes my life any worse, at least not yet. I do believe that someday, Trump and his policies will come for people like me. The worst result of a Trump policy for me personally, has been that my taxes went up slightly. I’m not even mad about that because taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society. Hell, I’d actually feel good about it if the richest people hadn’t received a tax cut.
But here’s the thing: I actually care about what happens to other people. I certainly don’t want to see other people suffer. I want to see all people given equal opportunity and be treated fairly.
But there’s also the fact that my life could actually be better. I think people see this in ways nobody really could have predicted during the Bush years. Back then, we were just hoping for an escape hatch in the form of a Democrat. Now, we have our own vision. We can have things like universal healthcare, environmental justice, and equal rights for all. We can put the government to work for the people in the modest ways that other developed nations do.
I feel optimistic that, if elected, Joe Biden will pursue a very progressive platform. I get that he’s not Bernie or Elizabeth Warren, and he’s not going to go after the best possible version of what they would advocate for, and that’s OK.
The thing we get with Biden that we don’t get with Trump, is the chance to keep trying.