Since Donald Trump scored the political upset of the century, his critics have worked through four of the five stages of grief at breakneck speed.
Denial: As the cable nets showed state after state turning orange, media mavens and seasoned politicos wondered whether they had gone color blind. “If she can get Michigan, Nebraska and Wyoming, she’s still in this!” Election analysts kept reloading the vote tally from American Samoa trying to convince themselves this can’t be happening! And those poor workers at Hillary Clinton’s inaptly named Victory Party broke into tears after not breaking the glass ceiling.
Anger: Progressives, many of whom didn’t bother to vote, rampaged through their progressive cities to smash the windows of their progressive neighbors. For some reason. As protesters attacked motorists, left-coasters flooded the website of Yes California, a group demanding that the Golden State secede from the union.
Bargaining: Celebrities shared memes insisting Clinton actually won, linking to stories of the growing popular vote gap. Democrats encouraged electors to ignore their state’s voters, while rogue Republicans offered Ohio Gov. John Kasich as a safer option. Liberals with more money than sense sent millions to failed Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s doomed recount initiative.
Depression: Colleges hosted cry-ins and communal primal screams, and offered counseling for grieving students. The University of Michigan offered a “self-care” event that encouraged students to color, blow bubbles and knead their pain into Play-Doh. One lost soul wrote an op-ed declaring that Trump’s election made her abandon her search for a mate.
If you’ve read your Kubler-Ross, you know that the fifth stage has been absent from the collective spleen vent: Acceptance.
Instead, every day of the Trump transition brings another round of hyperventilation.
His detractors were outraged by how long it took Trump to make Cabinet nominations, then a few days later switched their outrage to his actual choices.
They were outraged that a tiny meeting of “alt-right” racists praised him. When Trump condemned the wannabe Nazis, the press blamed his supporters for falling for “fake news” and something called “Pizzagate.”
Can you believe what Trump said to Pakistan’s prime minister — or that he accepted a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s president? What will the totalitarians in China think?
But none of that pearl-clutching compared with the outrage over Trump’s tweets about flag burning or recounts or China or Hamilton or Saturday Night Live.
Let’s face it: Trump is a, ahem, unique president-elect. Acceptance might come a little slower for those who have grown accustomed to an urbane, smooth-talking Democrat in the West Wing.
But let me offer a little friendly advice: Breathe.
Look, I was a lifelong Republican until Trump won the nomination. I voted third party rather than sign my name to his reactionary agenda. I’m not the combover interloper’s biggest fan, to say the least. But hitting the fainting couch every time The Donald acts like he’s acted all his life is a recipe for cardiac arrest.
Worse still, if you panic over every misspelled tweet or unsourced transition rumor, no one will take you seriously if and when Trump really crosses the line. If Democrats learned anything from 2016, it’s that they shouldn’t have spent the past 50 years calling every Republican a racist, sexist, homophobe or worse. Don’t be the boy who cried wolf.
It’s going to be a long four years, and there will be plenty of real decisions to get outraged about. If you keep losing your mind every time Donald Trump acts like Donald Trump, you’re going to guarantee a long eight years.