So. Back in 2016, looking for a bit of perspective, I wrote this:
Every election these days is now “the most important election of our lifetime,” until the next one. And so every election has, for one side or the other, felt like the last-ditch attempt to save what we love about the country.
Except: It hasn’t been.
This election season has been extraordinary, it’s true. And I can’t quite make myself say, “Well Donald Trump might be bad, but he probably won’t be that bad.” He seems pretty bad to me. Someday, we might be living the election that really is the last chance to save the country. Maybe this one is it.
But probably it isn’t.
What our country needs is a man in a long robe and a beard, carrying a sign to every street corner: “This too shall pass.”
Maybe America’s institutions will snap back into place whenever Trump leaves office. Maybe there will be a restoration of the national commitment to a free press and hatred of racism. Maybe the international institutions that, imperfect as they are, have helped avoid a World War III for 70 years, will prove more resilient than they seem now.
But I’d no longer bet on that. I was wrong. It’s true that things aren’t always as bad as they seem in the world of politics. But sometimes they are. Two years after the campaign, I think the truth lies closer to the alarmist perspective than it should be.