Can we move past this crippling doomsday hysteria already?

Palmer Report is moving to a reader-supported format with a significantly reduced number of ads so we can reach a broader audience at this crucial time for our democracy. Support us via PayPal and GoFundMe.
–––––

Last week Donald Trump got hit with a gag order preventing him from attacking court officers and their families, and in response, Trump did the same kind of limpdick things he’s always done in response to this kind of thing. He ranted and raved about the judge’s daughter, after someone explained to him that she wasn’t covered under the gag order. Then he shared a social media post depicting President Biden tied up in the back of a pickup truck, which was even more obviously not covered under the gag order.

You’d think by now that everyone on our side would be accustomed to Trump’s repetitive, unimaginative, and ultimately ineffective MO in these situations. He’s scared of gag orders, both because violating them can get him locked up, and because not violating them makes him look weak in his eyes. So he plays these same old games, where he doesn’t violate the gag order but he goads everyone into going along with the narrative that he’s more bold and dangerously powerful than ever. Except it’s just never, ever true.

Yet even though Trump spent the weekend not violating his gag order, nearly all of the voices on our side spent the weekend flat out losing their minds over the imaginary gag order violation. It wasn’t just that they convinced themselves he had violated the gag order, so they could rant about it. It’s that they took the additional step of pretending that Merrick Garland of all people was at fault for refusing to enforce the gag order. That’s when I realized just how hopelessly our side has sunk into la la land.

Most everyone got a passing grade in their high school civics class, right? Which means that at some point in their lives, everyone understood that putting people in jail is a decision made by the Judicial Branch, not the Executive Branch. Which means that deep down everyone knows that the judge in this case, not the Attorney General, is in charge of deciding whether someone violated a gag order and should be locked up for it. And even if someone didn’t remember that from the tenth grade, they should still be able to intuitively understand that the judge who issued the gag order is in charge of deciding whether the gag order has been violated, right?

But so many folks on our side are so far gone from reality right now, these kinds of facts simply don’t seem to matter. Merrick Garland is already their favorite punching bag whenever they want to feel outrage, so of course they’re blaming Merrick Garland for not doing something about Trump’s gag order violation. Nevermind that 1) the Attorney General and DOJ have zero say over such things, and 2) Trump hasn’t violated the gag order.

This is all before getting to the fact that this isn’t a federal trial. Even if the Attorney General were in charge of gag order violations, that would fall to New York Attorney General Letitia James. But the outrage addicts on our side haven’t turned on her yet. So instead of inaccurately bashing her for something that comes down to a judge’s decision, they’re skipping straight to inaccurately bashing Merrick Garland – who couldn’t possibly be more removed from this situation. When it comes to enforcing a state judge’s gag order, Merrick Garland and Carrot Top have roughly the same authority.

Of course it’s nothing new for political Twitter to completely lose its mind in cartoonishly defeatist and wholly inaccurate fashion over a holiday weekend, even as cable news eggs everyone on for ratings. There’s something about the holidays, when too few serious voices are present, that allows the entire conversation to turn into a fictional dumpster fire. But there’s something different this time.

Here’s the real problem as I see it. We are now two weeks away from the start of Donald Trump’s first criminal trial. Yes, that’s right. You know the Trump criminal trials that we were told would never happen? The first one is now getting underway. This proves that the “Trump will magically push his trials until after the election” narrative was always a bunch of total crap. Everyone on our side should be relieved, or feeling better about things, on at least some incremental level. Whatever anyone’s level of optimism or pessimism coming into this, the fact that Trump’s first criminal trial is now getting underway should make everyone on our side feel like we’re in a stronger position. After all, Trump is going on criminal trial.

Yet somehow, on the eve of Trump’s first criminal trial, the loudest voices on our side are deeper into doomsday hysteria than ever. We’ve somehow decided that we’ve now lost the battle, Trump is fully omnipotent, and there’s nothing left for us to do but assign blame for the fact that we’ve lost. But this is clinically insane. Trump’s first criminal trial literally starts in two weeks. It’s not our side who’s in trouble.

I worry that so many folks on our side are so predisposed to wanting or needing to feel doomsday hysteria, the fact that Trump is actually going on criminal trial is shorting out their brains entirely. Instead of accepting the reality that Trump really is going on trial and going down that road to his downfall, they’re instead looking for anything they can find to convince themselves that Trump has now defeated us.

I’ve spent a long time warning everyone about the dangers of becoming addicted to that feeling of outrage and doom and panic, because once you’re addicted to that, you’re going to continue seeking out that negative feeling even on the days when the news is good. Sure enough, on the eve of Trump’s first criminal trial, large chunks of folks on our side are now going as far as making up imaginary gag order violations, and assigning imaginary blame to people who aren’t even involved in the situation, just so they continue to feel defeatist outrage.

I’m telling you, defeatist outrage is the single biggest enemy we’re facing in 2024. Just look at what a useless joke our side’s “activists” are in danger of becoming, as they make up more and more imaginary things just so they can feed their addiction to negative feelings. We’re not going to win this election by sitting around preemptively declaring defeat and angrily ranting about it. We’ve got to get over that kind of nonsense, and we’ve got to silence the people on our side who are insistent on hyping that kind of nonsense. Otherwise we run the risk of forfeiting a 2024 election that we’re firmly on track to win if we can simply keep our heads in the game.

BREAKING: Palmer Report is moving to a reader-supported format with a significantly reduced number of ads so we can reach a broader audience at this crucial time for our democracy. Support us via PayPal and GoFundMe.