Back when our kids were little, we would spend Friday nights watching movies. Anything from Pixar. How to Train Your Dragon. All the Harry Potter films. I have a crystal clear memory that our youngest first danced to the ending of Megamind. He was just 2 or so, in fuzzy footie pajamas, and when Michael Jackson’s “Bad” came on he started tapping his foot and moving in a circle.
I mention it because I’m writing this on a Friday evening, and I corralled the kids into watching a movie together for the first time in a while. I dragged them away from their phones and video games, and it took a good half-hour of grumbling before they agreed on anything. (We’re a Marvel household, and Guardians of the Galaxy won out over our dozenth time or so watching of Thor: Ragnarok.) But we were all in the same room for a few hours, and they even all laughed at some of the same jokes.
It’s a reminder that time flies. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. With the election just days away, it’s impossible not to think back to 2016 and how much has happened since then. In some ways that election feels like it happened a decade ago. And in others, it feels like yesterday. Donald Trump’s victory threw everyone for a loop, but sooner or later it would all settle down, right? We’d get back to normal. That’s what I thought then. But the surprises (and scandals) never stopped coming, and everything just kind of snowballed. Anyone else still waiting around for Infrastructure Week?
Regardless of how one feels about the president’s policies or his demeanor, regardless of whether he’s the cause of or merely a symptom of the problems in our culture, it’s undeniable that aspects of the last four years have been stressful. We fight with strangers and friends from behind keyboards, and—increasingly—in real life. Politics has taken on an outsized presence in our daily lives. It’s not just that liberals and conservatives get their news from different sources, watch different TV shows, or eat at different restaurants. This week the New York Times ran a quiz asking, “Can You Tell a ‘Trump’ Fridge From a ‘Biden’ Fridge?”