TWS (Trump Withdrawal Syndrome)
So, look…I’ve always been a political animal. Among my earliest memories are riding atop my father’s shoulders at a “Save the Rosenbergs” rally in Union Square, as well as watching FDR’s funeral cortege as it passed through New York City from that same vantage point. Among my sons’ earliest memories are being tear gassed in their strollers in Washington while protesting the Vietnam War. I can’t remember a time when I started a morning without first reading the New York Times, however early I had to leave for school or work, and my letters to the editor of that lofty publication have frequently been published. I was with the first group of Americans to visit post-revolutionary Cuba on a work-study trip. So, it was to be expected that I would become an MSNBC junkie during the last five years, as the country went from outrage to outrage, crisis to crisis.
Having never before watched daytime television, during this pandemic crisis I went from Andrew Cuomo’s daily pandemic briefings, to my favorite newscasters, to the hearings on Trump’s latest outrages. Despite my husband’s frequent complaints that he can’t stand any more news, and pleas that we watch a British murder mystery instead, he joined me in a nightly ritual of Ari Melber and Joy Reid over dinner, and Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell as a nightcap. After the Capitol riot and Trump’s second impeachment trial, to which we were glued, we heaved sighs of relief, both feeling as though a weight had been lifted off our shoulders. The news was becoming normal; it was about appointments of rational people, qualified experts, about policy making and reasonable priorities based on facts and science. We started to watch those British mysteries.
And then, when the glow had started to wear off, I began to realize that I was in chaos withdrawal. I missed the outrage and adrenaline rush that the news had provided for the past five years. Even the front page of the New York Times seemed, well…..dull. Yes, there was important news; reestablishing ties with our allies, the possibility of real pandemic relief, medical briefings with real facts, notes from the Fed that made good sense, important police reform, but where was the RUSH? I began to realize the truth in, “You can’t make this up”. No British mystery could compete with Russian spying in real time, with collusion and conspiracy in the here and now. Was I…perish the thought…missing Trump??? This couldn’t be! When my heart stopped racing, I realized that what I was missing was the rush, was living in a British murder mystery, a French spy thriller, a page turner. I was experiencing TWS! I could barely wait for the Southern District of New York criminal hearings, for the villain and all his accomplices to get their comeuppance! I suddenly realized what made Trump so popular among his supporters. It was that you really couldn’t make any of this up. We were justified in watching reality shows under the guise of news. And, there was no titrated withdrawal. We, as a nation had gone cold turkey.
I am trying to handle my TWS on my own, along with the ensuing shame at being addicted to the rush. I wonder how the newscasters are doing? I wonder what their ratings are like.