This is how much I’ve been in denial of Trump’s presidency: I didn’t just wish, I believed that he would resign soon after 100 days, which would be right about now. In April, I even tweeted this so as to get credit and bask in the glory:
My crazy prediction: Trump will resign after 100 days. He tells himself: I don’t need this shit! He tells world: the best 100 days ever! He wins! He saves face! He’s a slave to Big Fat Symbols, and “100” opens an exit door for him.
As it turns out, I’m the slave to symbols: After 100 days, I went through an exit door and finally started to accept that, like it or not, Donald J. Trump really is president of the United States.
And I have a hunch that many other citizens, liberal and conservative, have been in a similar denial, unwilling to say the words “President Trump,” convinced that his presidency is a temporary aberration that will soon be rectified—by impeachment, the 25th Amendment, or an act of God. Whenever I looked at him, I half-believed he was a hologram.
A far more powerful, and more complicated, version of this tendency drove lots of Americans to deny—for eight years—that a black man occupied the White House. According to stereotype, liberals should be able to accept reality sooner than that—we like science, we make up the reality-based community, and all that. But it’s one thing to resist, protest, organize, and call him names, like a delusional man-baby. (How else do you describe an adult who is surprised that being president “is more work than in my previous life” and that he “thought it would be easier”?) It’s another to truly accept, in your bones, the sheer fact that he is president.
I’m still working on it, but over the last week or so, I’ve gradually begun to relax my defenses against reality. It wasn’t just the symbolic marker of Trump’s first 100 days. It was an accumulation of bits of news and patterns of speech. I was beginning to internalize small shifts in how the news media regarded him.