Deep Breath

Last week was a bitch. A lot of people I talked with sounded ready to give in, curl up in a ball, give up.

Need a reminder? Doug Muder provides a list with links, just in case you had already checked out of the news cycle, closed your eyes and cowered:

Looking around this week — in the media, among my friends, inside my own head — I observed that a lot of people are freaking out. Because Trump was acquitted, because he has started his revenge tour, because Republicans know he abused his power and don’t care, because the Democrats are doing it all wrong, because a virus is spreading out of control, because the State of the Union was full of lies, because both the National Prayer Breakfast and the Medal of Freedom have been desecrated, because a US senator willfully and illegally endangered the life of a whistleblower, because it’s been 65 degrees in Antarctica, because the Attorney General has given Trump carte blanche to violate campaign laws, because a billion-dollar disinformation project has begun, and because, because, because.

Then add to that the more local news around Matt Shea (WA legislator), Heather Scott (ID legislator), the Covenant Church, The Church at Planned Parenthood and the toxic brand of Old Testament “Christianity” that unites all of them. (More on all of that in later, and prior, posts) How many voters are there out there who feed on, and buy into, their poisonous rhetoric? (Hint: fewer than you might think. Loud and organized minorities can look much bigger than they are.)

Take a deep, deep breath. As to Trump, Democrats’ nail-biting, and electoral angst, Doug Muder offers this (the same principle applies to the local poison):

At his core, Trump is a bluffer. He puffs himself up to make people think he’s bigger and richer and stronger than he really is. It’s the only trick he knows, but sometimes it works: He scares people into giving up or going along. (That’s what we just saw happen in the Senate. You don’t really believe that all those Republicans thought keeping him in office was good for the country, do you? Or even good for their party, or for themselves? They got scared, so they went along.)

When something like that works for him, he uses it to puff himself up further and scare more people. That’s what’s been going on this week.

Don’t help him.

Don’t run around scaring other people about how big and powerful he is. When a bluffer gets on a roll, you can never predict how far it will go. But we do know one thing about bluffers: When their empires start to collapse, they collapse quickly, because each failure causes more people to think “I don’t have to be scared of this guy.”

You can never predict exactly when that process is going to start. The balloon always looks biggest just before it pops.

Doug Muder sent that email out Monday morning, right after I read Heather Cox Richardson’s late Sunday evening email making many of the same points, but adding the historical perspective of a scholar. I urge you to click that link, read, and sign up for her emails, as well as for Doug Muder’s email. Both see me through some dark moments.

Here’s what Heather Cox Richardson ends with. It’s the critical piece:

To people who want to find a way to make a difference, speak up, to your local officials, your friends, your neighbors. What do you hope for the future? Why does it matter that we continue to be a nation of laws? Our voices are only unimportant if we decline to exercise them. And, taken together, they have the power to redefine America from the “carnage” that Trump sees, to the land of hope and possibility it has been in the past… and can be again.

Uncurl from that ball you’re tempted to roll up in. Rise up. Talk. Share. Encourage. Show up. And…

Keep to the high ground,