I learned a new word recently—Doomscrolling.
It’s the Internet grazing equivalent of not being able to eat just one potato chip. Doomscrolling in bed. When you go to sleep. When you wake up middle of the night to pee and you glance at your phone’s screen when you get back into bed and it turns into an hour’s long journey into hell. It’s when you wake up in the morning and reach for the phone to check emails and news which these days is mostly sad and depressing so you start the day in a funk that lasts through the night.
Doomscrolling is not a new word, apparently. The New York Times reported on it several months ago (https://nyti.ms/3j0HMfH). It is not a healthy activity. Experts, according to The Times, say it could “make us angry, anxious, depressed, unproductive and less connected with our loved ones and ourselves.”
I practice a medically unrecognized form of self-diagnosis. Recently, I developed an arrhythmia, a condition associated with the periodic skipping of a heartbeat, often caused by excess stress. Generally not life threatening, my cardiologist assured me. I suspect my arrhythmia came from election anxiety.
I wake up most nights, for I am a 71-year-old man. I sometimes have trouble falling back to sleep and read for an hour on my iPhone, as I did last night. But ever since November 7, the day Joe Biden was declared the winner of the presidential election by everyone except a deluded Donald Trump and his enthusiasts, my arrhythmia seems to have disappeared.
Given Trump’s never give up mentality, and the complicity of lawyers and politicos who expect to gain from his continued tenure in the White House, I worry my arrhythmia might return.
Same Evidence, Different Interpretations: Here’s the evidence—Biden easily won election but Democrats running for Senate and House seats and state legislatures underachieved.
Though unfortunate overall for Democrats, Dems see this as obvious evidence that no chicanery occurred, for if they had manipulated ballots they would have cast winning tabulations for more under-ticket races.
Republicans, on the other hand, dismiss Biden’s voter appeal, saying it is incredulous to believe that without underhanded activity there is no way he could have amassed 10 million more votes than Barack Obama did while underperforming among minority voters and while Democrats failed in almost all other key races.
Trumpsters bemoan that if Biden is declared the winner 73.7 million would be disconsolate. Do they not recognize that if Trump wins 79.6 million who voted for Biden would be enraged?
As a nation we surely are screwed.
Trump’s pre- and post-election assault on the veracity of the election, including his firing of the head of the watchdog agency overseeing the honesty of the vote who reported it was conducted without taint, has had an impact on voters.
More than three-quarters of Trump voters say Biden’s victory was due to fraud, according to a Monmouth University poll (https://mol.im/a/8961477).
Given almost universal condemnation concerning the validity of political polls, however, how much credence should we ascribe to the Monmouth survey? Even if the numbers are not absolutely accurate, though, it’s an example writ large of the theory that a lie told often and loud enough can convince enough people to believe it is true. Trump has always touted his salesmanship. In this case his power of persuasion about a “rigged” election has corrupted and polluted our democracy.
Litmus Test: Going forward, the litmus test for anyone considering a run for president against Biden in 2024, indeed for anyone seeking election from now on, is how they behaved during the post 2020 election denial orchestrated by Trump.
Will they be seeking office as a Republican or as a Trumpian? Will they express confidence in our electoral system or will they have been party to its denigration as the gold standard of all democracies?
Fist bumps of Kamala Harris on the Senate floor do not qualify as an endorsement of election results. Full throated public congratulations are the minimum acceptable protocol.
So far, with painfully few exceptions, fear of Trump has constrained recognition of Biden as the president-elect. The most potential contenders for the presidential nomination in 2024 or beyond—people like Nikki Haley, Ben Sasse, Tom Cotton—have to say is that Trump has the right to explore all legal avenues to verify the vote.
Perhaps the most unsettling aspect of Trumpian sycophancy among elected officials who have toed Trump’s line is that they believe they could control him during a second term.
How else to explain their almost unanimous rejection of Biden’s more than 5 million vote plurality nationwide and his accumulation of more than 300 electoral votes?
They apparently are not revolted by his firing the secretary of defense and his expected axing of the heads of the FBI and the CIA because they did not display sufficient fealty to him. Nor by his failure to produce a coherent response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nor by his haranguing state election officials who say fraud did not mar election results. Nor by his cozying up to white supremacists at home and autocrats abroad.
As irresponsible as Trump was during his first term, repeatedly ignoring civic and constitutional norms, he would be more untethered during a second term. His vindictiveness would know no bounds. He already has broadcast his intention to withhold COVID-19 vaccines from municipalities such as New York that oppose his despotic rule.
Democrats, alone, should not be expected to man the resistance. As Tom Friedman opined in The New York Times Wednesday, “Democrats can’t summon a principled conservative party. That requires courageous conservatives” (https://nyti.ms/3kJoGKq).