We Can’t Keep Up Four More Years of This

It’s the end of an exhausting weekend of both work and activism, and I apologize in advance that this post is informal, short and shows…well, exhaustion.

The fatigue isn’t just temporary, though. It’s starting to be a condition of political life under Trump. Activists and regular people are energized to fight Trump, and much of what I did this weekend was related to activism on behalf of social justice in this new era.

But I’m talking about a deeper, more subtle fatigue that has already started to creep in. Andrew Sullivan referred to it this weekend, accurately comparing it to the experience of a child in a household with an abusive father. Mike Hale at the New York Times correctly noted that Saturday Night Live’s skits betrayed a hint of exhaustion.

It’s not just liberals. Numerous reports indicate that White House staffers are miserable and at end the their ropes just a few weeks into the administration. It’s not hard to understand why, with stories like this:

These are chaotic and anxious days inside the National Security Council, the traditional center of management for a president’s dealings with an uncertain world.

Three weeks into the Trump administration, council staff members get up in the morning, read President Trump’s Twitter posts and struggle to make policy to fit them. Most are kept in the dark about what Mr. Trump tells foreign leaders in his phone calls. Some staff members have turned to encrypted communications to talk with their colleagues, after hearing that Mr. Trump’s top advisers are considering an “insider threat” program that could result in monitoring cellphones and emails for leaks.

The national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, has hunkered down since investigators began looking into what, exactly, he told the Russian ambassador to the United States about the lifting of sanctions imposed in the last days of the Obama administration, and whether he misled Vice President Mike Pence about those conversations. His survival in the job may hang in the balance.

Or this:

What’s going on was explained lucidly by a senior Pentagon intelligence official, who stated that “since January 20, we’ve assumed that the Kremlin has ears inside the SITROOM,” meaning the White House Situation Room, the 5,500 square-foot conference room in the West Wing where the president and his top staffers get intelligence briefings. “There’s not much the Russians don’t know at this point,” the official added in wry frustration.

We can’t keep going like this. It’s possible that some sort of equilibrium-seeking normalization may occur, but that would depend on the Trump team achieving some level of reality-based stability. That seems very unlikely.

Something is going to snap. I don’t what or when, but the country can’t keep going like this. Neither Trump or the beleaguered, exhausted country he is running ragged can tolerate another four years of this.

That’s probably what scares me the most.

David Atkins

David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.