What have we learned from Trump's reign? There are worse things than being boring

Adrian Chiles
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA</span>
Photograph: Jim Lo Scalzo/EPA

Boredom is arguably the biggest outcome of lockdown. I don’t suffer from it as I can always default to worrying myself into a frantic state about something or other. And terror is never boring, I will say that for it. Boredom is generally regarded as a bad thing, and I have often taken it as saying more about the character of a bored person than the boringness of their situation.

But now I am wondering if we need to embrace boredom a bit more. Professionally, as journalists, we dread boredom. This can lead us into an awful place where bad or even terrible news reaching us can feel darkly thrilling or at least better than the worst thing of all: plain boring.

With some things, such as open heart surgery, it is surely better that they’re boring. Politics may be one of those things. Shortly after Donald Trump was elected president, I was in Washington chatting to a venerable correspondent on that beat. “Can you imagine if Hillary had won?” he lamented. “It would have been so boring. I’d have been skiing every weekend.” The feet of his and many other correspondents have barely touched the ground since. But at least they were never bored; it was never boring.

We often talk about the need to engage more people in politics. Trump achieved that by addressing arguably the key problem with engagement: a lot of people find politics extremely boring. Through fair means less than foul he made it interesting, turning it into farce, tragedy and comedy, intentionally or unintentionally, as the mood suited him. This man, probably himself driven by a fear of boredom as much as anything else, successfully alleviated boredom among the American electorate. And look how it went.

Bring back boredom, for heaven’s sake. Joe Biden: you are the man for the job. Best of British to you.

• Adrian Chiles is a Guardian columnist