The Longest Nooooo!

Maryland therapist Steven Stosny described a condition he terms "headline stress disorder", a more virulent version of the "election stress disorder" that he detected prior to November 8, 2016.  Ever since he won Donald Trump's been on the brain of his patients and it's not going away soon..

Alas, from Nov. 9 onward, we’re now having to cope with a kind of “headline stress disorder.” For many people, continual alerts from news sources, blogs, social media and alternative facts feel like missile explosions in a siege without end.

In my Washington area-based practice, women seem especially vulnerable to headline stress disorder. Many feel personally devalued, rejected, unseen, unheard and unsafe. They report a sense of foreboding and mistrust about the future. They fear losing the right to control what happens to their own bodies. Their male partners are disappointed and angry by the news (there are few President Trump supporters in the D.C. area) but don’t feel the same kind of personal betrayal. Because they don’t get it, they have a hard time sharing the emotional burden, which makes their partners feel isolated. The shock and anger that followed the election threatens to give way, as shock and anger usually do, to anxiety or depression.

If former vice-president candidate Tim Kaine can be believed, the condition is real. "Headline stress disorder" is particularly acute among liberals, some of whom are in a state of paroxysmal rage over Trump: over what he is, stands for, how he looks, etc.  A kind of self-sustaining chain reaction may now be taking place. It is energy and anger looking for a place to go.

Kaine said "Howard Dean tweeted at me the other day 'Tim, the base is getting ahead of the leaders.'" In response Kaine argues the Democratic leadership must get ahead of the base.  "What we’ve got to do," Kaine said, "is fight in Congress, fight in the courts, fight in the streets, fight online, fight at the ballot box, and now there’s the momentum to be able to do this."

Though such pronouncements have been interpreted as rabble-rousing, incendiary statements they can with equal plausibility be the words of frightened politicians trying to stay in control of their routed army. "The base is getting ahead of the leaders" is probably Dean's way of warning senior Democrats of the dangers of "leading from behind", of watching things get away from them.  The two biggest perils are the party will split into ever-more radical factions feeding a demand for revenge from an enraged base; and that old-school leaders like Kaine and Dean will be proven impotent in the face of a counter-liberal juggernaut.

Both those dangers came measurably closer with the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as Education Secretary.  With DeVos' accession the juggernaut has moved one step closer to investing the key liberal redoubt of education. The core fortress, the upstream of culture and politics -- may soon be under siege.  It demonstrated, if further proof were needed, the growing inability of the old time Democratic bosses to slow, let alone stop the Deplorable advance. In a sidebar to the DeVos' story the New York Times sourly noted that Barack Obama was off kite surfing with Richard Branson, fiddling as it were while Rome burned.