The first four years were about resisting Trump. Now it’s time to ignore him.
Following the calamitous blow of the 2016 U.S. presidential election, millions of stunned Democrats cried, drank, slept, raged, and mourned, but then they dusted themselves off and got to work on “resisting” the presidency of Donald Trump. The rejection of Trump’s ascendance to the Oval Office was never about contesting the election results, but about resisting the normalization of this oafish and egotistical Manhattan real estate billionaire and reality TV star as the leader of the world’s most powerful country.
Admittedly, the nascent anti-Trump resistance movement, to which even Hillary Clinton herself publicly committed, was a visceral reaction to the profound disappointment felt by countless Clinton supporters when the results came in that November 8th evening, and to the shock that someone so utterly unqualified, so brazenly racist, so angry, so divisive, and so morally indecent could have convinced tens of millions of Americans that he was the right man for the job.
Jump to January 21, 2017, the day following Trump’s inauguration. Led by women, millions of people in Washington and cities throughout the U.S.A. and the world marched in protest of Trump’s presidency, and to advocate for women’s reproductive rights, human rights, immigration reform, health care, the environment, LGBTQ rights, and racial equality.
Following the marches, despair had turned to determination and anti-Trumpers started organizing. By the time the midterm elections rolled around, their efforts and fundraising had made a difference; Democrats took back the House.
Now, Trump faces the possibility of a second term. For Democrats, the loss would be as gut-wrenching as it was in 2016. They may not flip the Senate this time, but thanks to resisters who’ve been out raising funds and awareness for Democratic candidates, they’re inching closer to a blue Senate in 2022.
The resistance movement has been effective. It channeled hopelessness and rage into mobilization and achieved results, but it’s been a struggle. Trump has dominated our TV screens, our Twitter and Facebook feeds, and our lives for half a decade now. His presidency has been exhausting, and he knows it. He has thrived on the chaos and division he has sown, and the drama has only emboldened and energized him. It’s painful to admit that we have played a part in feeding his narcissism with every televised rally or interview we watch, every Trump article we click on, and with every angry tweet we write in response to one of his idiotic ramblings.
Psychologists say that narcissists need “emotional supply”, and when they don’t get it, they suffer. If they can’t find enough attention to make it through the day, they will fall apart. Regardless of the outcome, but especially if Trump wins again, the most important thing any of us can do — not only in America, but throughout the world — is to ignore him. Cut off his emotional supply. Shut down the attention buffet. If he wins, it will be his last term. Despite what he may like to believe, he won’t be running for reelection. This will be his last hurrah. He’ll no longer need his most rabid followers for political gain, but he’ll still need to bask in the glow of their adoration and he’ll still need the angry reactions and shock of those repulsed by him. He’ll need the circus of 24/7 media attention — not to win an election again — but simply as food for his ego.
Should Trump win this thing again, he’ll do whatever he can get away with. We’ve all learned that hard lesson. So, in Trump’s second term, or in his new life as a private citizen once again, it will be time to look ahead to a post-Trump world. It will be time to unfollow and unfriend everything Trump on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. It will be time for news networks and journalists to deny him interviews and other free publicity.
Efforts to improve representation and have more diverse voices heard at all levels of government will still be important work, but it will finally be time to stop actively resisting Donald J. Trump himself, and start doing what we probably all should’ve done five years ago — starving the malignant narcissist of what he hungers for most: our eyes and ears.