A good enough POTUS beats an evil one any day

President* Trump,

Because it seems prudent to leave myself some space to comment on the debate later tonight, I’m just going to share a tiny two-part anecdote. Just now I read Dan Zak’s WP article entitled “November May Be The Darkest Month Americans Have Seen In A Long Time.” It’s sort of a mash-up between the looming actual darkness that we bring on ourselves with our ritual “fall back” daylight savings deal, the prospect of becoming further isolated and vulnerable to COVID, and various Americans’ concerns heading into the election month. It was one of those reads that I found simultaneously validating (I’m really not alone or crazy) and profoundly sad and unsettling.

Part one of the anecdote is that at the very tail end of the article Zak returns to Heather McNeer Toney of Oxford, MI, a Black climate activist who he introduced in the first paragraph of the piece. McNeer Toney is on the phone with him when her 4-year-old son starts to cry and she pauses to check in with him. It turns out that the tag in the neck of his shirt is really bothering him so she takes a minute to remove it for him. She tells Zak that her son doesn’t like tags in his shirts and that she can control this. She then says that if something so simple as this can set things right, things must be ok. She’s actually even more positive than this, but I can’t bring myself to go all the way there.

Part two of the anecdote is that just yesterday I was wearing a shirt our daughter had consigned to the Goodwill pile (I get some of my favorite shirts this way) and late in the afternoon I realized that I was repeatedly fussing with the tag. Turns out that the darn thing still had the little plastic stringy thing that held the price tag. Unfortunately I realized this during a Zoom meeting so I had to wait nearly 45 minutes to cut it out. But once I did, I felt for a minute like McNeer Toney – this was something I could control and that once I took care of it, things were ok. It’s small. It’s miniscule. It’s neither here nor there for anyone else, but in the moment it was incredibly satisfying.

Ok, it’s later now and I managed to hang in with debate-watching for what feel like 22-ish noble minutes (not Nobel). Holy crap was it hard. I knew, we all knew, that your approach would be to steamroll, badger, belittle, lie, and act your bully self, and you didn’t disappoint. You were your full on odious self and it was painful, embarrassing, beyond nauseating to watch. So, after I’d taken all I could handle I did the very gratifying thing of hitting the pause button on the WP website – shut you right up. It was great!

When I first tuned in, I kept reflexively looking for a “chat” function to use to tell the moderator to cut your mic so that you’d have to stop talking over both him (the moderator) and Biden. It was so frustrating that there wasn’t a way to intervene and make you be quiet. It was clear that Chris Wallace either didn’t think of cutting your mic or didn’t have a way to do so since you completely bulldozed him too. You do run true to form at all times in all ways, so have to give you that. I suppose the one positive to point out is that because of COVID (sigh), you can’t walk around on the debate stage and menace Biden like you did Clinton. It’s a small thing, sort of like tags in shirts, but it’s a thing and I’ll take it.

May we be safe from our bully POTUS.
May we be willing to reset around an agenda that is neither nihilistic nor greed driven.
May we take care of ourselves and one another so we can see you to the door.
May we accept that a good enough POTUS is far better than an evil one.

Tracy Simpson

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