I Wish Donald Trump Nothing.
Wishing him well and wishing him harm are both “what they want us to do.”
Twitter is ablaze. Facebook is on fire. California is probably still burning too, but, different story.
Social media is self-immolating over whether it is “right” to wish the president a speedy recovery from the Coronavirus. Wishing your oppressors well is a slight variation on Stockholm Syndrome, isn’t it? Subscribing to the politeness, the decorum, the social niceties that uphold inherently oppressive systems such as the patriarchy and white supremacy is to buy into those systems, to validate their power.
“Fuck Trump. I do not wish him well.” has become a ringing battle cry across my Facebook page. Choruses have joined in agreement in the comments sections.
I agree, to an extent: I don’t understand why people’s lives suddenly become sacred in the moment they are threatened. I don’t understand Joe Biden pulling negative campaign ads “out of respect” for the president’s condition. Did contracting the Coronavirus erase all the shitty things he’s done? Acts of sudden and contrite deference for people who fall sick implies that we should criticize them, not on the morality of their actions, but based on whether they’re well enough to “take a hit.” It implies, weirdly, that our criticisms and anger cease to be valid when the other party becomes unequipped to retaliate against them (side note: Trump seems perfectly capable of tweeting from his taxpayer-funded hospital bed, so we’re fine on that front).
There’s no denying that the “well wishes” from the Democratic front ring hollow and contrived. The sad truth, probably, is that probably nobody wishes Trump well.
And this is where I have to differentiate my broad compassion and love for all living things from a wish for Trump to “be well.” I do want Trump to be well, but that has nothing to do with his COVID diagnosis. I want him to go to therapy and seek mindfulness and accountability. I want him to take deep breaths (probably a tall order right now) and ask himself “Why do I feel angry? What does it mean to be fulfilled?” (an even taller order).
I wish, as I do for all people, for Trump to be a positive, loving force in the universe. I wish, in general, for positive, loving forces in the universe. That Trump is not one (and, let’s be honest, probably never will be) precludes my specific, fervent desire for him to be physically well and functional.
I regard him mostly the way I do my narcissistic ex-husband: He’s a bad person, and it’s not his fault. He was dealt a shitty hand, genetically and/or experientially, and believe it or not, he’s doing the best with what he has (which is very, very little).
But having compassion for someone in that sense — withholding judgement — doesn’t mean you have to celebrate or revere their existence. It doesn’t even mean that their life has value. The value of a life is not inherent. It’s derived from the ability of that life to add value to the lives of others.
I wish for Donald Trump to experience true joy, to find deep meaning in existence, and to celebrate his humanity in concert with his fellow humans.
Short of that, I wish him a speedy, pain-free death, in the way that I do any creature whose suffering is so apparent and egregious.
Neither of these are very likely. So what’s left? Here’s what I think of the vengeful sentiments and schadenfreude that currently riddle my social media pages:
We live in a socioeconomic system of artificial scarcity, wherein the political powers that be have co-opted emotionally charged issues such as abortion and gun control — issues that deal with life and death and the survival of the species — to manipulate citizens into voting for their own poverty: their own superficially imposed “scarcity panic.” The poorer they are, the greater the panic. The greater the fear. The greater the anger. And the more easily manipulated they are.
Liberals and leftists are not exempt from effects of scarcity panic. We feel the panic of fiscal and economic resources slipping away, squeezed through the ever-tightening fist of the billionaire class that has sown the oats of our desperation over the last seven months.
We feel the panic of of justice scarcity. We’re panicking over Amy Coney Barrett and the (extremely unfunny) joke of the Breonna Taylor trial and the upwardly sprinting COVID death toll and the fear that if we elect another old, white, centrist guy, we’re never going to make real progress.
All these social scarcities, all these paucities in justice, are symptoms of a capitalist system designed to incite fear and panic among voters, to polarize us from each other, to strip away our sense of community and oneness with each other, and to degrade our humanity.
I’m not doing it. I’m not playing into a system where the goal is to pit us against each other, to wind us up using fear-tightened springs, and watch us go at each other like terrified gladiators while Mitch McConnell and his ilk jeer at us from the crowd.
Trump is an icon of artificial scarcity. He is a living, breathing (surely not very well, at the moment) incarnation of the desperate shells of people the system was designed to reduce us to. I’m not going to indulge his game, and I’m not going to play by the rules set up by a despot class to extract and harvest anger from us. I’m not giving their system any crude oil.
I refuse to wish suffering on Trump. I don’t really want him to be functional. And whether the world would be a better place if he died from COVID — well, that depends entirely on how such an event would impact the most vulnerable members of our society, which is kind of impossible to predict.
The fact that he contracted COVID from his own feckless and stupid actions seems like a poetic form of universal justice, but it’s not. It’s just the logical result of a cause-and-effect process. You refuse to protect yourself against something dangerous, and you will probably fall prey to it. There’s no beauty in the fact that Trump got sick. It was probably inevitable.
I don’t take joy in Trump’s suffering. I don’t wish him harm. I don’t wish him well. I wish him nothing.