Here we are, bruised and battered after a seemingly endless national U.S. election in which most of us on Guam can’t even vote for the top of the ticket, even though the potential consequences to our lives are quite clear.
We haven’t been spared one second of the media war waged in the battleground states and the rest of the mainland U.S. And I’m not sure I’m ready to give it up. It’s not about the president-elect. It’s about Donald Trump.
I’m still suffering a form of withdrawal from the chaos that this man wreaked on us with his candidacy over nearly two years. It will be tough to give up. Such conditions are traditionally addressed by the sort of 12-step program pioneered by Alcoholics Anonymous and now extended to other habits such as cocaine snorting and gambling.
But I never got the enjoyment out of The Donald that leads to these other addictions, unless there is some hidden joy in being scared to death by the prospect of a candidate’s election to the highest office in the land. It’s just that it became so hard to look away from the screen image of an individual violating all the rules of civilized and decent behavior to the loud applause of millions of Americans.
On Saipan in 1989, the arrival of live CNN coverage allowed me and my wife to spend days watching the invasion of Panama and the deposing of dictator Manuel Noriega in real time.
On Guam starting in 2015 and seemingly stretching out to infinity, there was the saga of Hillary and Donald. Of walls on the border with Mexico and enough emails to paper the world. But Donald Trump, as befits a narcissist and lifelong publicity hound, in the end stole the show, even if he came up short of the prize.
He sure changed our domestic behavior. Rather than passively following the Panama situation back when he first inspired occasional talking, then shouting at the TV. There was Donald on MSNBC in the bedroom and Hillary on CNN in the living room and hours of analysis on all these outlets. Finally, there were constant demands to simply turn him off!
If you’re a lifetime U.S. political junkie, it’s hard to imagine not being aware of Donald Trump for the past 40 years or so. Long before he was imagined as even a joke—and likely Democratic—candidate for president, he was a fixture in New York and hence the national media coverage. The campaign prompted hundreds of authors and New York media oldtimers to reveal the elements of
Trump’s decades of self-publicizing PR that brought him the attention he sought. On the other hand, in the vein of “What will he do or say next?” it was very hard to look away.
As a political addict, I had long since been able to wean myself away from the website Politico, feeling that it was a lot deeper in the national political weeds than I wanted to go. Donald Trump got me hooked back in and hard. I needed the latest poll numbers and the insider skivvy that clearly was informing the talking heads I was watching on TV.
And of course the internet, Facebook and dozens of newspaper sites were awash with yet more detail to feed my Donald Trump Jones.
Looking over the basic 12-step program’s components, I cannot quite bring myself to believe that I won’t be able to control this Trumpist addiction, since it’s more a matter of being hooked on watching and being appalled by him, rather than approving of what he is doing or saying. Or perhaps there’s a higher power that can help, though he/she hasn’t been revealed to me yet. As far as I’m concerned, American voters have made a good first start by rejecting him.
Finally though, 12 step programs call for helping others who suffer from the same addictions or compulsions. I would sure like to do this for Trump supporters, but, unfortunately, haven’t figured out how. I wish he would just go away, though I’ll certainly be looking to read all about it if and when he does. (Bruce Lloyd is a veteran journalist. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org)