When you’re used to fighting enemies, how do you go back to having mere opponents?
For political junkies, the post-election crash hits like a hangover. Here in Britain, we had two elections and two referenda—on Scottish independence, then Brexit—over four consecutive years. The summer of 2017, after the last of those votes returned a hung parliament, felt like one long exhale. I remember noticing how many people were changing jobs, leaving their relationships, or otherwise making big life decisions. You can only live on adrenaline for so long, and the comedown that follows is brutal.
The United States is now facing that comedown. The forces that drove this election result are still not clear—there is no way to gliby summarize the splits by race, gender, or income—but one fact is obvious: Turnout was huge. More people voted for Donald Trump than live in Britain. And he still lost. (As it happens, the People’s Republic of Trumplandia would be among the 20 most populous countries in the world, ahead of South Africa, France, and Kenya.)
That extraordinary figure proved that the Trump presidency, a television-ratings juggernaut, also produced real political engagement. Love him or loathe him … well, you had to love him or loathe him. The most marginalized political opinion in the U.S. is having no strong feelings about Trump.