Apparently, I have more empathy for those on the Left freaking out about President-elect Donald Trump than does Jim Geraghty:
Do these people need a hug, or to be vigorously shaken and told to snap out of it? They’re experiencing a colossal emotional transformation even though nothing has actually changed in their day-to-day lives. They are exactly the same people they were on November 8. Everything they had the day before — their smarts (or lack thereof), their work ethic, their skills, their passions, their vision — is still there. Trump’s election didn’t do anything to them. And yet they’re reacting to the election like they’ve been physically assaulted.
A therapist who can ask, “How can I treat patients when the world is spinning out of control?,” after this year’s election has come face to face with the reality that the world does not work as she believed it did. This may raise questions about her capacity to be a therapist in the first place, but it’s not hard to believe that she’s shaken.
As Mel Gibson’s character suggests in the movie Signs, after space aliens arrive on Earth, it all depends on what kind of person you are. Some people’s belief about the world is strong in such a fundamental way that they can take life- or world-changing events in stride as part of a larger plan, even if they don’t understand it. Those who don’t work their beliefs down to that level, either because they’ve avoided doing so or because they believe that there is no deeper level, are vulnerable to chance.
Similarly, I think I’ve written somewhere about how we can in exist in completely different worlds from each other until some fact forces us to feel that our world has either changed or that we’ve been living in an illusion. Until that moment of stark reality, we’re in the position of scientists about to open Schroedinger’s cat box, only we’re in the box and about to see whether the world outside is one way or the other.
But liberals’ experience, right now, is multilayered, including ways that aren’t quite so existential. They’re reminding me of people I’ve known who discovered that their spouses were cheating on them, and it really can be like a physical assault that makes them nauseated and dizzy.
Geraghty suggests the lessons of the Tea Party, which responded to President Obama by getting motivated. I’m not sure that’s possible for progressives, though, because they don’t view our rights and political system as Tea Partiers do, but instead as a function of inevitability and will to power. The difference, for them, is not only a matter merely of circumstances, but also of how our society functions and should function. The temptation is going to be strong, therefore, for the Left to keep denying reality, especially if Trump doesn’t turn out to be a dictator and even has some measure of success.