In choosing Mr. Trump they were throwing a Hail Mary pass, but they didn’t sound desperate. They always sounded jolly. And I realized they hadn’t sounded jolly about politics in a while.
Below the jolliness I sense the spirit of the jailbreak. They were finally allowed to be renegades. They were playing the part of the rebel in a country that had long cast them as the boring Americans—stodgy, dronelike, nothing to say. The lumpen working and middle class, dependable heartland-type boobs. Everyone else got to act up and complain. They were just there to pay the taxes, love the country, send the boys to war.
Now they were pushing back, and hell it was fun. It was like joining a big, beautiful anti-BS movement. It was like they were telling the entire political class, “I’m gonna show a little juice, baby, brace yourself.”
As the months passed they wanted me to be jolly too, to join them in the rebellion. Here I came to experience real grief. (I suspect a lot of the tension and estrangement of the early Trump years had to do with people feeling grief and showing it in anger.) My heart was in sympathy, but my head? I’d read too much history, even lived it, to be jolly about it. Or to think this ends well.