NY Times opinion columnist Michelle Goldberg has coined a new term for the left’s misery over the election of President Trump: Democracy grief. According to Goldberg, the feeling that some environmentalists have about climate change is called “climate grief.” Democracy grief is the equivalent for those who believe a second Trump term will mark the end of liberal democracy in the Unites States:
Lately, I think I’m experiencing democracy grief. For anyone who was, like me, born after the civil rights movement finally made democracy in America real, liberal democracy has always been part of the climate, as easy to take for granted as clean air or the changing of the seasons. When I contemplate the sort of illiberal oligarchy that would await my children should Donald Trump win another term, the scale of the loss feels so vast that I can barely process it.
If you’ve read Goldberg over the years you may already know that she specializes in this sort of vague progressive paranoia. Back in 2006 when “new atheism” was a hot topic and Goldberg was working for Salon, she wrote a book titled “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism.” Here’s a bit of the description of the book:
Before the 2004 election, and during the ensuing months when many Americans were trying to understand how an administration marked by cronyism, disregard for the national budget, and poorly disguised self-interest had been reinstated, Goldberg traveled through the heartland of a country in the grips of a fevered religious radicalism: the America of our time. From the classroom to the mega-church to the federal court, she saw how the growing influence of dominionism-the doctrine that Christians have the right to rule nonbelievers-is threatening the foundations of democracy.
We’re now living in a theocracy run by fundamentalists, so clearly Goldberg was ahead of the curve. Oh, wait, actually, the country has become increasingly secular over the last decade. But there was a definitely a moment when the American left was in a panic over “dominionists” and Goldberg was there to convince them they were right to panic. So here we are more than a decade later and Goldberg is stoking a new panic over a different Republican president:
The entire Trump presidency has been marked, for many of us who are part of the plurality that despises it, by anxiety and anger. But lately I’ve noticed, and not just in myself, a demoralizing degree of fear, even depression. You can see it online, in the self-protective cynicism of liberals announcing on Twitter that Trump is going to win re-election…
I reached out to a number of therapists, who said they’re seeing this politically induced misery in their patients. Three years ago, said Karen Starr, a psychologist who practices in Manhattan and on Long Island, some of her patients were “in a state of alarm,” but that’s changed into “more of a chronic feeling that’s bordering on despair.” Among those most affected, she said, are the Holocaust survivors she sees. “It’s about this general feeling that the institutions that we rely on to protect us from a dangerous individual might fail,” she said.
I guess the reference to Holocaust survivors is a subtle way of suggesting Trump is Hitler. She continues:
In April 2017, I traveled to suburban Atlanta to cover the special election in the Sixth Congressional District…Recently, I got back in touch with a woman I’d met there, an army veteran and mother of three named Katie Landsman. She was in a dark place.
“It’s like watching someone you love die of a wasting disease,” she said, speaking of our country. “Each day, you still have that little hope no matter what happens, you’re always going to have that little hope that everything’s going to turn out O.K., but every day it seems like we get hit by something else.” Some mornings, she said, it’s hard to get out of bed. “It doesn’t feel like depression,” she said. “It really does feel more like grief.”
They lost an election and three years later people are still acting as if a family member died. This is absurd. But the responses from some of the NY Times’ readers suggests Goldberg knows her audience:
Thanks for writing about something that so many of us feel. I live in a place where most people close to me – friends, family and colleagues alike, seem blissfully unaware of anything beyond the day to day rigors of raising kids, managing the home and businesses and, now, the holidays. I sometimes crave to join the “ignorance is bliss” camp, but just cannot stand to see the danger today with worse to come if Trump wins again (though glimmer of hope, however unlikely, of Dems winning the Senate).
That response has more than 2000 recommendations. Personally, I think this kind of emo nonsense is self-destructive and stupid. It’s a smug perspective that sees most of the things that make life worth living as a distraction from what really matters. Sure, the commenter says, other people have families and jobs that make them happy but those people are just ignorant drones. Um, no. Those people have more fulfilling lives and don’t need politics to fulfill them. But to be fair to Goldberg, there must be a lot of these people reading the NY Times because some of her readers really do sound depressed:
Yes it is hard to see America die. It was a nice idea, but unfortunately it was a human idea. In my 60 years I have come to see that humans really are not that impressive. There have been a few bright spots but it was inevitable that we end on our own terms. All this political stuff hurts but it has been around since our beginnings without much real change. At the end of the day it won’t matter too much as we will not have a viable planet to live on. We humans had our shot and trashed the place.
Another person’s comment began, “I choked back my own tears reading your piece feeling it’s all just slipping away, and to think Donald Trump and his enablers are the reason adds sheer bewilderment and fear to the mix.”
Get a grip you silly twit! The world is not ending. On the contrary, things are getting better for hundreds of millions of people.
But I guess I have to hand it to Goldberg. She knows what Times’ readers want to hear, and what they want to hear is that the world is ending because of Trump. Fortunately, they have an army of hysterical voices in the media happy to tell them they are right to panic.