is it immoral if you feel schadenfreude about trump’s covid-19?
Many are thoroughly exhausted with the Trump show. That is one factor that could cause him to lose the election. Yet I don’t hear people in the commentariat talking much about this. One who does is Tim Alberta of Politico:
It’s impossible to quantify how tired Americans are of this presidency. But it’s a constant theme in the conversations I have with voters, including die-hard Trump supporters. They feel trapped inside a reality TV show and are powerless to change the channel.
With all the high drama of the past few days, many of us are totally sick of the presidential spectacle. Voters, says Alberta, “weary of their social media feeds and kitchen table conversations being dominated by Trump, may resent that he turned a sympathetic situation into yet another showcase of administrative incompetence and self-celebrating bravado.”
More than “may resent,” some of us emphatically resent it. This pig of a man sucks all the air out of the room and displaces it with viral particles. He joyrides in front of Walter Reed, fraudulently downplays the virus, insults the dead (“Don’t be afraid of Covid.”), and preens maskless on the White House balcony. How much more of this show can one take?
At the same time he is like a flat character in a bad novel. So suggests Quinta Jurecic in The Atlantic: “Trump isn’t boring in the way a dull, empty afternoon is boring. Trump is boring in the way that the seventh season of a reality-television show is boring: A lot is happening, but there’s nothing [new] to say about it.” We are tired of him playing the role of tinpot dictator.
So when Trump caught the virus, instead of invoking thoughts and prayers, many wished him ill. I did too, not that he should die (which would make him a martyr to his people) but that he should get good and sick. Some wished he would die. Some celebrated with abandon. It was a perfect, understandable instance of what the Germans called schadenfreude, taking pleasure in another person’s bad luck or misfortune.
Schadenfreude has a long history and diverse interpretations. My reaction to Trump’s affliction was simply that he got his just deserts. Justice was served. Yet my satisfaction was thwarted as he then tried to turn things to his own twisted purposes by exploiting and politicizing the virus. “I wake up some mornings feeling we are in the grips of a madman,” said David Gergen.
I finally came to realize that there was no way ever to bring him to justice. Contending with Trump is a zero sum game. The game will not even end with his election defeat, which he promises to protest. Trump will continue to intrude on our lives until he makes his final exit.