This Is All So Depressing

(Not) the man of my dreams. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Lately I have trouble falling asleep. This isn’t a new problem for me; in fact, I take medication for this sort of thing, but it’s just not working. I will take this up with the appropriate professionals, but in the meantime, hear me out: This sucks. By this, of course, I’m referring to these two:

Has the world ever revolved around two more feckless individuals? I mean, yes, but still, give them credit for their efforts. They have mounted an impressive spectacle. All of Capitol Hill hangs on their next moves. President Biden’s horribly titled “Build Back Better” agenda will survive or perish based on what they do. Joe Manchin does not want to spend $3.5 trillion over ten years to bring the U.S. up to basic standards. Kyrsten Sinema has shouldered her way into my attention so often this week that I see her kaleidoscope prints every time I close my eyes. No wonder I can’t sleep.

In fairness to her, and to her fellow refusenik, I signed up to be a political journalist. Nobody made me do this to myself. I wanted the job because I think the world is in dire shape, and the solutions are political in character. If I thought of politics as a game, as the infamous horse race, as an episode of West Wing or maybe Veep, haha, maybe I’d be doing better right now. But I don’t and I’m not. Depression then gives way to rage. I am angry that after a year and a half of mass tragedy and economic chaos, influential members of the political class remain mired in the past.

Wouldn’t it be nice to pass legislation that mattered? Wouldn’t it be nice to catch up with other developed nations on matters like affordable child care? Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all agree that we are destroying the planet and should stop this before we burn the Earth down? Wouldn’t it be nice if the president’s signature achievement, which takes us just a tiny bit closer to a future worth inhabiting, didn’t depend on the hubris of two people in the Senate?

If I’m this demoralized, I have to imagine what this looks like to people who didn’t sign up to follow this shit, who want to pay their bills and take care of their kids and find dignified work.

“I cannot accept our economy or basically our society moving towards an entitlement mentality,” Manchin said to reporters on Thursday. “Because I’m more of a rewarding ― because I can help those who really need help if those who can help themselves do so.” Americans will have fewer social benefits than individuals in peer countries but by God, at least they won’t be moochers! Why should any liberal care about voting when this is the result they get? Let alone the politically apathetic, who could be wooed to one side or the other. The answer, of course, is that people have the ability to effect change — to vote out a Manchin or a Sinema and replace them with someone better — but alienation is a tough obstacle to surmount. We’ve been told for years to expect nothing better from the system, or the people who control it. And for years, nothing is almost precisely what they’ve delivered. A few major exceptions, like Obamacare or the American Rescue Plan, aren’t quite enough to drag this country into the 21st century before it’s too late.

What a damnable waste of time and public trust. Nobody can depend on the GOP for anything but cruelty and death at this point, but people need an alternative. In its absence there’s only nihilism. That prospect should cost everyone some sleep.

This Is All So Depressing