Former President Barack Obama reemerged on the campaign trail Wednesday in Philadelphia, delivering an across-the-board indictment of his successor’s first four years in office.
Amid the rhetoric, one specific set of lines jumped out at me as channeling what so many people – including Republicans who voted for Trump in 2016 – feel right now.
Here it is (bolding is mine):
“And with Joe and Kamala at the helm, you’re not going to have to think about the crazy things they said every day. And that’s worth a lot. You’re not going to have to argue about them every day. It just won’t be so exhausting.”
That, for me, is the best and most succinct argument that former Vice President Joe Biden can make in the closing 12 days of this race. Deciding to fire Trump and hire Biden isn’t about any specific policy or even any specific mistake that the incumbent has made. It’s about a country absolutely exhausted by Trump – his norm-busting, his misinformation, his junior high school bullying, and his tweeting, his tweeting, his tweeting…
Donald Trump is relentless. (His most ardent supporters suggest that is why they love him so much.) He just never stops talking and tweeting. And almost always, his words and his tweets are self-serving, repetitive or dangerous. He promotes conspiracy theories. He insults his opponents – and sometimes members of his own administration. He lies.
It’s just SO much. The last four years feel like we have been running on a treadmill, 24 hours a day/seven days a week. And notice I said a treadmill. Because we aren’t going anywhere. We are just running in place. Trump mistakes movement for progress, and so he creates a whole lot of movement. But movement without results just makes us all tired.
Two-thirds of Americans in a late 2019 Pew poll said they felt “worn out” by the amount of news there is, roughly the same as the 68% who said the same in 2018. And to the point about how this feeling of exhaustion is not purely a partisan thing, 75% of self-identified of Republicans and Republican-leaners said they felt “worn out” by all of the news while 59% of Democrats and Democratic-leaners said the same.
While Obama articulated it more clearly than Biden has, it’s worth noting that this idea of people being tired of, well, all of it, has been present in the former vice president’s campaign since the start.
“The American people want their government to work, and I don’t think that’s too much for them to ask,” Biden said in announcing his campaign back in 2019. “I know some people in DC say it can’t be done. but let me tell them something, and make sure they understand this: The country is sick of the division. They’re sick of the fighting. They’re sick of the childish behavior.”
Since then, Biden has repeatedly cast his campaign as a return to normalcy, a return to the way politics used to be. Which, if you think about it, isn’t really a partisan statement at all. It’s simply saying that Trump is an anomaly. That his consistent and constant viciousness and selfishness don’t fit within the traditional structure of party politics. That being, well, the way Trump is has nothing to do with being conservative or liberal, being a Democrat or a Republican. It’s totally distinctive to Trump. And according to Biden, it will end if Trump is voted out.
Again, Obama paints well what that sort of future might look like.
“You might be able to have a Thanksgiving dinner without having an argument,” he said. “You’ll be able to go about your lives knowing that the president is not going to retweet conspiracy theories about secret cabals running the world or that maybe SEALs didn’t actually kill bin Laden.”
Which, yeah. That would be different.