White House

Learning to live and love in an era of Trump anxiety

Greg Gutfeld

I consider myself a self-trained expert in anxiety. I study my own at least 16 hours a day. If you watch “The Five” and “The Greg Gutfeld” show, then you get to observe six hours of my unease for free.

My anxiety is fueled by anticipating the unknown -- the future that looms like a dark, mocking cloud just above the horizon, waiting…

Obviously, nothing ever ends up as bad as I think it will be -- but sooner or later, I know that I am going to be correct.  At one point, I will think -- this is going to be really, really bad, and you know what? I’ll be right! Then I will die, content that I nailed it.

Anticipating the unknown is anticipating the disconnect between our expectations as humans, and our unpredictable surroundings. 

We are all alike this in some way. But what if we run into someone who doesn’t experience life in this manner? Who somehow fails to experience stresses in the same way you and I do?  

Our current president, I’m thinking, is that guy. He seems to undertake certain actions and either doesn’t anticipate the reaction, or does -- and simply doesn’t care.  

I envy this. I imagine my own anxieties have held me back in life -- rather than take risks, I find safe harbor. I’ve turned down big jobs for this reason, even though I can’t recall a time I’ve embarrassed myself when the pressure was on.

But enough about me. With Trump’s aloof response to stress, there are two kinds of extreme response to this.

There is the negative: a mix of revulsion and disbelief.

There is the positive: a gleeful embrace of the King Disruptor. 

My gut instinct tells me that the appropriate, and healthier, response falls somewhere in between.

If you hold either one of those extreme perspectives, you will either become super stressed out, or defensively disappointed.

Instead, if you reconsider the place on the continuum between revulsion and reverence that Trump might occupy, you might be able to reconfigure your own response, so it’s not so bad for you, or so great for you -- making it loads healthier for you, in the long run.

Now, some people will always see Mr. Trump as evil. I can say that a majority of these people, however, would see any Republican as only slightly less evil.  When you start with the assumption that anything that is not liberal is also not moral -- it doesn’t matter if the Republican is Rubio or Reagan.  It’s pretty much how we feel about lawyers: we begin, and end, with distaste. We only dislike our counsel slightly less.

Of course, there are those who can’t stand Mr. Trump on the Republican side -- they would have preferred a Rubio or a Gramm. Can’t say I blame them. It would have been a more comfortable fit to have a conservative political animal, rather than a walk-on, unknown quantity who has held numerous contradictory positions on a few issues.

But among those who find themselves in a constant wrath over Trump, you could pull back a little, if you realize some of the common, less dastardly sources for Trump anxiety:

-      First be aware that, with Trump’s behavior, you’re criticizing a cat for not acting like a dog. And when you elect a cat instead of a dog, don't keep flipping out every time he refuses to fetch a stick. It’s telling that the people who really get this, are the apolitical. Read any of Scott Adam’s blogs, or listen to Dave Rubin’s and Gad Saad’s podcasts. Neither are ideologically inclined, but as public intellectuals, they seem to have grasped the president’s unusual manner best. He’s a different cat, not your usual dog.

-      We are seeing everything unfold before our eyes. And because of this, we’re learning more about how this government operates than we’d like. Nothing is behind the scenes -- what’s behind the scenes, is simply more scenes! Before Trump, daddy hid everything from us. 

-      He is us. Because of this, we ascribe our own flaws onto him. His impulses are our impulses, and we often draw conclusions from that feeling. But unlike us, he often takes sharp turns after a comment or tweet -- or even engage in full-fledged reversals. After a year of bashing China, Trump just made a huge trade deal with China. I mean, CHINA! That’s like me doing a brutal monologue on Al Gore, and then opening a bed and breakfast with him.

-   He spots his adversaries points. It’s true. With any issue -- be it the travel ban, the ObamaCare remix, or the Comey firing -- Trump gives his critics a head start on mockery by treating what they believe to be important, as trivial. Trump’s different values and style create both real and perceived missteps that hound him for days afterward. 

Yet, in explaining how Trump anxiety arises, and how such sources of anxiety heighten a disconnect between our expectations and our earthly realities -- this is in no way meant as an excuse for boorish behavior. It’s only to help you get a better handle on your own responses, and the reaction of a media that has yet to shift gears.

The media is still operating under a pre-Trump political landscape. So they’re constantly shocked, disgusted, panicked -- often making audible gasps and harrumphs in response to any non-hysterical Trump analysis (which may sound like affirmations, when they aren’t).

Someone might inform the media that they’re not in Kansas anymore; they’re in Queens -- and they’re dealing with a salesman who could talk a squirrel off a nut truck.

Greg Gutfeld currently serves as host of FOX News Channel's (FNC) The Greg Gutfeld Show (Saturdays 10-11PM/ET) and co-host of The Five (weekdays 9-10PM/ET). He joined the network in 2007 as a contributor. Click here for more information on Greg Gutfeld