I find writing difficult today. Not b because there is little to write about; on the contrary, there is too much to write about. I suffer from outrage fatigue. The Kyle Rittenhouse trial (and the increasing seeming likelihood he will be acquitted of murder), the trial of Armad Aubery’s killers, the resurgent GOP, the increasing refusal of the Senate to pass voters’ rights legislation, the abortion ban in Texas — and the Supreme Court’s reaction (or lack thereof) to it; it all seems too much. I keep feeling that we are watching the slow death of representative democracy (such it is; it has never been perfect) in America.
Not that there’s a dearth of people writing — on blogs, Facebook, elsewhere — about the state of the world. I am following the Rittenhouse trial through the Facebook posts of my friend Jane, a very experienced trial lawyer who is rightfully outraged by the deference shown by the judge towards the defense.
I have suffered from outrage fatigue for many years now. The Trump administration went from bad to worse, with new revelations detailing even more horrors. I had hoped that the respite offered by the Biden administration would be enough to give me the strength to take up the fight once more. To write more letters to Congress, to write to this administration, to participate in protests.
Then came January 6th. The attack on the American capital shocked me but oddly did not surprise me. We have been heading this way for years; the election of November 2020 simply accelerated the attempted coup. Had Trump actually been elected President* (rather than simply psychotically insisting that he had), we would have seen a slower and more effective de facto overthrow of Congress. Whether we would see violence towards liberals (or more than we see now, as threats against elected officials increase) is an open question.
What did shock me was the response; the GOP denied that anything untoward had happened (these were “patriots,” after all), and much of the public seemed apathetic. We have one staggeringly close to an actual overthrow of the government, and most people seem to not care.
And then there are the swathes of the public that refuse to be vaccinated against COVID-19. I find it almost incomprehensible that large numbers of people faced with death from a deadly disease would reject a miracle of science, a way back to that normality they claim to want (and, in some cases, claim is already here, flying in the face of the strong evidence otherwise).
In October, I joined the club of people who know someone who died of COVID. Not someone close, thankfully, but someone in my extended family nonetheless. His siblings got vaccinated after he ended up in the hospital, but it should have not taken that for them to take care of themselves and other people.
As I sit here writing about all of this, I find myself grinding my teeth. Many people grind their teeth at night, I grind my teeth during the day. I have weird wear patterns on some of my teeth because of constant grinding. (And yes, I now have a mouthguard, but it interferes with speech so I hesitate to wear it during the day.) I once ground my teeth so hard I chipped a crown. The state of the world can cause me to do that.
The Not-So-Little Drummer says that means that I am not really suffering from outrage fatigue, that I really do care. I think perhaps I care so much I can’t bring myself to dwell too much on any one thing, the way I would have to to write about it.
Maybe he’s right.
*I know someone who rejects the notion that Biden won. A sibling, whom I had always thought of as being intelligent and relatively liberal (certainly for Florida) told another sibling that they were sure that there was election fraud because of the large numbers of ballots that came in late for Biden. I guess descriptions of the process which told how those ballots were the result of mail votes being counted, and that many more Democrats than Republicans took advantage of the process so as to reduce their risk of getting COVID-19, failed to register. It makes me want to hit my head against the wall.