Panic and Emptiness

Ophelia Benson


Like just about everyone I know, I’m struggling to adapt to life under the Trump regime—especially mental life. That was a major part of the horror of election night and of the days and weeks since: the suffocating feeling of being stuck with having to pay attention to this terrible yet trivial and childish man. We had thought we were about to escape the miasma of his insults and lies and provocations, and instead we are condemned to live among them for an intolerable stretch of time. It felt, and has gone on feeling, like a prison sentence.

It’s degrading. It’s a humiliation for the whole country and all of us in it to have an ignorant, dim-witted, narcissistic bully as head of state, one without even a façade of grown-up decent behavior. I still, after all these weeks since Donald J. Trump won the election, can’t wrap my head around the fact that the forty-fifth president is a man who repeatedly called a U.S. senator “Pocahontas," who insisted for years that Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen, who mocked a disabled reporter at a campaign rally, who agreed with Howard Stern on live radio that his own daughter was “a piece of ass," who bragged about his freedom as a celebrity to grab women “by the pussy"—and on and on. It’s as if we’d dropped in on some random fraternity party and selected the loudest, dumbest, meanest guy there to be our head of state. It’s too grotesque to be true. Yet it is true, and I can’t see how we’ll ever live it down.

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