Way back in April, the writer Julio Vincent Gambuto issued a grave warning: “What is about to be unleashed on American society will be the greatest campaign ever created to get you to feel normal again,” he wrote in a post published by Forge. Our collective trauma would be downplayed at the hands of big business and, especially, by the nation’s canny “marketer-in-chief.” Things weren’t so bad, he predicted they’d say. It wasn’t a matter of if, wrote Gambuto, but when. Some 20 million Medium readers took note.
Flash forward to Tuesday night’s presidential debate, and to one moment in particular. “We have no problem whatsoever,” said President Trump about holding campaign rallies during the pandemic. Never mind that, shortly after one such rally in Tulsa, the former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain contracted Covid-19 and eventually died from the virus. Cain’s sad fate is so widely known, and Trump’s claim, by extension, so easily disproven, that it seemed almost beside the point to refute the assertion. (Neither Joe Biden nor debate moderator, Chris Wallace even bothered.) Maybe that was by design.
Gaslighters have no interest in passing a fact-check. Their aim is to undermine reality, to divorce cause from effect with impunity. It’s a chaos strategy, and pushing back gets exhausting. But, as Gambuto rightly argued, it’s imperative that we do.
“If we want to create a better country and a better world for our kids, and if we want to make sure we are even sustainable as a nation and as a democracy, we have to pay attention to how we feel right now,” Gambuto wrote. Our truth isn’t futile—far from it. It’s on us to reject the chaos.