“Donald Who?” U.S. expunges President from collective memory


Weeks into the presidency of Joe Biden, the United States is recovering from its trauma, by repressing the former incumbent of the Oval Office in his entirety. 

Being banned from the internet, and digitally removed from Home Alone 2, it has been remarkably straightforward to forget about the former President, who has vanished from public life completely.

This has led a number of U.S. citizens to deny that he ever existed at all. The condition, officially titled President Erasure Syndrome or PES, is believed to effect up to 30% of the U.S. population and manifests in a variety of forms. There are those who insist that America simply never had a 45th President, jumping from 44 to 46 like the missing 13th floor on an elevator.

Some have chosen to erase the past four years altogether. “It’s 2016 and I’m 27.” says James Mitchell, 31. This psychological complex is already having lasting repercussions according to psychiatrist Dr Laura Nelson. “We have a large section of the population who are flat out denying that the last four years have happened. They’ve essentially been snapped out of existence and are now resuming their lives, akin to the plot of the highest grossing movie of all time Avengers: Endgame which of course they claim does not exist.” 

For Jane Nguyen, PES has had a personal toll: “I met my boyfriend on election night 2016. While the last four years have been a nightmare politically, in personal terms they’ve been some of the happiest of my life. Unfortunately we woke up on the morning of January 21st and he had no idea who I was.”

“Unfortunately there is no quick fix to President Erasure Syndrome,” says Dr Nelson. “It’s early days and there’s still so much we don’t know about the condition but as we understand it, it’s a defense mechanism used by the subconscious mind when people are incapable of processing the insanity and trauma of the past four years. Perhaps left to their own devices, they will reconcile reality with their delusion and the memories will return but until they do there’s really not much we can do about it. Attempting to force any realization on them could do much more harm than good and could cause long term adverse effects.”

The least damaging manifestation of PES appears to be in those who simply recast the past four years, with a different, less psychologically stressful, character from film and television taking up the role of President. The most popular substitutions being Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Elmo. This form of PES is by far the highest functioning with those afflicted able to fully participate in society and even discussions of the last four years provided the correct President is substituted into the debate, such as “Do you think President Elmo should be impeached again for inciting insurrection?”

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