Erik Hagerman, was so upset at Donald Trump's election that he swore that he would avoid learning about anything that happened to America after Nov. 8, 2016.
"It was draconian and complete," Hagerman told the New York Times. "It's not like I wanted to just steer away from Trump or shift the conversation. It was like I was a vampire and any photon of Trump would turn me to dust."
Hagerman has stuck to what he calls "The Blockade" of all news, and claims he has lived happily ever after in a pig farm in Glouster, Ohio. Meanwhile millions of Americans, both pro- and anti-Trump, continue to marinate in angry debate, with other people and even in their own minds.
As some Texas friends would say of Hagerman, "Bless his heart!"
But personally I just don't have the discipline to wean myself from all news, no matter how beneficial it might be for my mental health.
Instead I've carved out an uneasy middle position between that rare bunch of people who've managed to ignore Trump—or rarer still, continue to support him—and those opponents who live in permanent apoplexy, cursing Trump every waking minute.
Last week Stew and I met some friends at the Frontera restaurant for its weekly meatloaf special, and our friends pointed to a group gathered by themselves at the opposite corner of the place and whispered conspiratorially, "those are San Miguel Republicans!" Whew.
There are also persistent but unverified whispers that there are actually some Trumpistas lurking somewhere in the congregation of our small church! Wow.
Granted, Republicans in San Miguel are about as rare as openly gay Baptists in Alabama, but I couldn't understand why Republicans would automatically be assumed to be pro-Trump or treated with such scorn. Or even why they, in turn, would feel it necessary to hide their political preferences from those outside their tight circle of friends.
On the other hand, the anti-Trump hordes in San Miguel, both visitors and locals, are afflicted with their own form of derangement: More than a year after the election, they can't stop cursing and obsessing about that son-of-a-bitch.
Recently I watched two friends visiting from bluer-than-blue Chicago who damn near could not stop talking about Mr. T. There was no way to steer the conversation elsewhere, such was their anger and fixation on the topic.
"Get a life!" was one piece of advice I could have used but didn't.
I must confess to sharing part of their anger. But after so many months of news reports, revelations and accusations regarding Trump, my animus toward him has gradually tempered from unhinged to a mellower middle ground of quiet anger, occasionally relieved with with astonishment.
Why would Ivanka Trump, who has zero foreign policy experience, be involved in high-level negotiations with South Korea? I chose to shake my head and giggle rather than fume about that one.
Some would say my attitude may be the onset of resignation, despondency, or deep depression.
But no. I think instead it might more a combination of numbness and optimism. Maybe realism, too, since there is not much I can do right now but to make sure my absentee ballot reaches Chicago in time.
For one, I'm sick and tired of listening to the same black humor and apocalyptic political rantings of many of my friends.
For another, my experience after coming to the U.S. as a refugee from Cuba in 1962, when I was fourteen years old, has given me a nearly unshakeable faith that my adopted country and its political institutions are capable of emerging from the darkness that envelops them today.
Several months ago Stew and I stopped watching, almost completely, late-night talk shows with their litany of anti-Trump monologues and skits, or even Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher and CNN. There is so much whining, smirking and eye-rolling we can take.
How conservatives, no matter how angry, can stand to watch Fox News daily, with its gross official government mouthpiece bias, is beyond me.
|Rolling Stone. com|
But most of all, my heartfelt immigrant optimism keeps me from fearing the worst for the U.S.
A few months after I arrived, the U.S. and Russia nearly reached for their nuclear buttons and annihilated each other and the rest of the world. But they didn't.
The Vietnam War, and the convulsive social protests and youthful disaffection—remember the trauma of Kent State?—should have irreparably torn apart the country, and if not them, certainly the Watergate scandal and subsequent resignation of Richard Nixon. But they didn't.
Though I have no secret sources at the White House, my strong hunch is that Trump will not serve a full term, much less get reelected for a second, and it won't be because of some dramatic remedy such as impeachment.
|Nate Beeler, Columbus Dispatch|
Meanwhile I plan to keep my wits about me and look for any moments or irony during these dark political times.
Ironic? How about Anderson Cooper, an openly gay newsman, interviewing a former Playboy centerfold on CNN tonight, and on 60 Minutes on Sunday, a woman with mountainous breasts and the delicious nom de porn of Stormy Daniels, and exploring their past sexual escapades with our Commander-in-Chief and his failed attempts at a cover-up?
I'll probably watch both programs, out of curiosity if nothing else. I hope the Ohio pig farmer makes an exception to his news Blockade and does also.