But even if we still remember how to be normal, even if we could get back there, would we? Will anyone believe, after this, that it’s safe to let our guard down? Electing a Democrat to office is no guarantee; after all, we had eight years of President Obama to make us complacent, and look how that turned out. Even if America evicts Trump in November, the traumatic effects of his presidency won’t just disappear…and maybe more to the point, some of us, the ones who’ve existed since 2016 in a state of aggrieved symbiosis with the Orange Man, will be loathe to just let it go. Breathing a collective sigh of relief, and getting down to the business of governing, would require relinquishing the drama of the Trump years that has been both an addiction and a livelihood to so many. News organizations will have to find something else to write about; comedians will have to get new material; people who constructed an entire identity around underdog resistance will have to accept the obscurity that follows victory and the hard, unglamorous work of leveraging power productively.
But those people, the dedicated culture warriors, are few and far between — especially compared to the majority, who are, above all things, exhausted. That’s the thing about forever wars: the longer they rage on, the more apathy they breed among people who would, at some point, like to stop resisting and start living again. And since the populist right, despite eking out a narrow win in 2016, have never been much for mass organizing (compare the multiple thousands in attendance at the various Women’s Marches to the hundred or so screaming tiki-torchers who constitute a right-wing ‘rally’), a hopeful vision of the US under a Biden presidency emerges. Not normal, necessarily, but at least less noisy. It’s a start.