Trump has succeeded in making a direct connection with the American id. He has crystallized formerly vaporous conspiracy theories such as QAnon and the supposed deep state. He has given voice to prejudices that our logical thinking — our better nature, if you like — tells us are damaging and addictive. We understand what the scientists are saying about protecting ourselves from covid-19 and flattening the curve, but those things are plodding and prosaic. The online rumors (vaccines cause brain damage, global warming is a hoax, Democrats molest children and then eat them) are much more attractive. The id is hateful; it’s also fearful. Trump, a rainmaker who takes credit for rain even as the drought continues, has based both of his presidential campaigns on a series of dark myths. He really isn’t like the others.
As Americans prepare to go to the polls, they are facing a crossroads moment like no other in the nation’s history. One fork leads to Trump and a validation of the id and all the dark beliefs it harbors. The other fork leads to Biden. A vote for Biden isn’t a vote for the superego — Biden is not blameless — but it’s at least a vote for the ego: the part of us that is rational and willing to take responsibility (however reluctantly) for individual actions and societal ills.
It took me four years, but I get where Annie was coming from in 2016, and I get where all those yelling, unmasked, red-hatted partisans at Trump’s rallies are coming from. I understand the desire to kick over the apple cart and then just walk away. But I also understand the need to move forward in a rational, if sometimes plodding and painful, manner. Trump kicked over the cart. Millions of American voters helped him. Biden is promising to right it again … but we’ll all have to pick up the apples.