If only. Trump retains our attention because he is a compelling personality, and purveyors of popular entertainment have long known that people want to follow interesting people. It’s not enough just to be a great actor, an amazing entrepreneur or a sports legend. If public attention and the lucre it can bring are your goal, you have to create controversy or build a larger-than-life persona that makes people look up with wonder. Trump spent his entire life building that persona, whether in New York’s tabloids or via reality television, and he knows how to make people watch. Now that he’s gone, or at least not making daily appearances or comments, he has left a gaping void that many had become dependent upon. They just can’t let him go.
Trump will probably feed this hunger like the public relations master that he is. He’ll peek out over the parapets of Mar-a-Lago just enough to keep his name and mug in our minds, giving TDS addicts enough of a fix to keep them going. When election season starts in earnest next year, he’ll ramp up his appearances and launch his comeback. The political story for much of 2022 won’t be whether Democrats and Biden retain control of Congress; it will be whether Trump can oust his Republican opponents and retain control of the GOP.
None of this is good for a badly broken country. Right and left should move on from Trump and let our democracy heal from his narcissism. But there’s no vaccine that protects us from TDS. The fact we can’t seem to break his habit means the body politic will continue to suffer from this infection for years to come.