Election season is here. Americans have the opportunity to exercise their right to vote in several races between now and November. Some of the elections will be hotly contested, some will be smooth sailing. Some will be the most scandalous races you’ve ever seen, whereas some will remain true to the democratic process. Some will make progressive, life-changing history and some will reward the good-old-boy system. Some will be inclusive and promise to protect the rights of all citizens, and some will alienate their constiuents.
This year in particular, our country is grappling with the issue of race more than I have seen in my lifetime. We are also having a hard time recognizing how some Americans have been denied a basic resource that many of us have taken for granted – clean water. And African-American families, especially those with boys must have new conversations with their kids as it relates to law enforcement and their rights.
Even though we feel that the weight of the world is upon us, we must keep election season in perspective. This week on the Twilli Talks internet radio show, I interviewed Dr. Jameca Falconer about the stress of politics. As we talked, I learned how candidates and voting citizens could be affected by the stress of a campaign. Stress is a very real thing, that can lead to very real physical and psychological ailments. Dr. Falconer recommends that as citizens, we remember that election season is one aspect of our lives, and we maintain perspective on that. After that interview, I came home and logged on to Facebook, to only become more disgusted by what I saw.
It was at that point I wrote this for with the tips we need to survive the political season without manifesting signs of post traumatic stress disorder in ourselves.
- 1. Change the way you Facebook. There’s something about the political season that brings the political commentator out in all of us. Every election year since 2008, we’ve all seen it. You will have staunch conservatives who you are friends with on Facebook. You will have bleeding liberals who you are friends with on Facebook. You will have those who will make an announcement saying, “I’m sorry if you believe in this, I can’t be friends with you on Facebook.” Lastly, you will see this, “I am so shocked at the amount of people I’ve had to unfriend today, be glad you’re still here.” Y’all, it’s Facebook. It’s designed as a platform for people to say whatever they want. And trust me, they will do just that. Do yourself a favor and change the way you Facebook. One option is not to check your timeline so frequently. Another option is to hide the updates from those whose views will cause you stress. And even still, another option is to not talk about politics on Facebook. If you think about it, did you ask the person working at the cash register at the gas station this morning how he or she felt about Donald Trump? I didn’t think so.
- Vote. I realize that as a Generation X-er, it feels like times have changed – for the worst. Even though the situation may look bleak, we still have a civic responsibility to vote. In this country alone, voting rights were denied for so long to so many people that it is against the very foundation of America for us not to vote. There are eight months between now and the general election in November. Just do it.
- Remember, these are people. With real feelings, who put their pants on one leg at a time. Even the ones you don’t like. While it may appear they are invincible, they are living with stressors we can’t even comprehend. I know that this is the path they have chosen, but they are still human and in the end, they have to live with their actions and reactions. I think it’s still safe to say that if you loose sleep over an issue, that sleep deprivation is going to affect you and your family the next day. Not the politician.
- There is still a job to do. Namely yours. We all know how this country works. Ideally, we have a job, we do that job, we earn money for doing our job, and we buy goods and services with the money we earn. Everyone has a job. If you do yours, you won’t have time to be consumed with how I do mine. Don’t allow yourself to become so consumed with politics and the difference of political opinions at work that you can’t do your job.
- Use the teachable moments in your family. As I write this I can hear my the voices of my parents clearly. It is up to us to involve our children in the democratic procress in an age-appropriate way. Explain to them the issues, have a mock election at home, plan a trip to the next presidential inauguration. Whatever you do, teach children that they have a voice and let them know they are expected to use it when they become 18.
- Exercise the simple choices more than ever. You have a choice to remove certain social media notifications from your phone, you have a choice to turn off the TV, you have a choice not to look at YouTube, and you have a choice not to engage. Turn it all off and get some rest at night.
- Take celebrities with a grain of salt. Celebrities are going to endorse candidates. They can do that because, they are voters too. In this country, celebrities can also run for political office. Please remember that the celebrities who are endorsing are representing themselves, not the television show they work on. Translation: Olivia Pope is not voting for Hilary Clinton because Olivia Pope is a character on tv, not a person in real life. Kerri Washington is voting for Hilary Clinton because she believes in her platform. And again, she has that right to do so.
- Stop berating other members of your ethnicity for not feeling the same way you do. I get it. You want to see equality. You feel that certain ways of thinking and acting are demeaning to the history and the legacy of the culture, but stop berating others for feeling differently than you do. The world is not going to end because some people watched Chris Rock’s monologue during the Academy Awards. See number 4 above, that was his job.
- Read the story , not the comments. As a blogger, this one is hard to write, but it is true. Newspapers and television stations allow comments from their audiences at the end of a story. Bloggers do it too and believe me when I say this, it’s a big deal. People write comments on posts that are rude, prejudice, and unfair. They can be just downright mean. During this season, and especially when reading politically-charged posts, do yourself a favor and read the blog post, not the comments.
Our country is important. Our issues are important. But really, our health is of the utmost importance. Let’s learn to take a moment to enjoy the civil liberties we do have, instead of allowing them to ruin our lives in the coming months.