Political Burnout: Has the Election Taken Over Your Life?

I used to care about other stuff. I used to talk about topics other than the election. I used to go days – even weeks – without thinking too hard about my political values or hopes for the future of our country. But not anymore. This election has taken over my life, I tell you. I am feeling some serious political burn out. And how exactly has this happened? Let me share with you some examples. And then we are going to figure out a way for all of us to focus on something other than the election, even for a short while.

On a debate night, I almost always dream about the candidates. Usually, they are in some stressful predicament; once Obama and I weren’t able to find a voting booth on November 4th. And those dreams are exactly what I deserve for staying up well after the candidates have left the stage, watching all of the post-game pundit chatter late into the evening. In fact, my husband and I both toss and turn – there is rarely much hope for a fresh start the next morning.

Once awake, we face the computer or morning news. The pundits are still there: rehashing, replaying and repeating everything my nightmares were about. And I dread opening that full inbox listing political updates and reminders. Did you know Joe Biden is speaking in your town today? What are YOU doing to help win this election? Could you donate even $5 to make change happen? It’s barely 8:00am, and I already feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I usually find some comfort in a bowl of cheerios while I stare at Handy Manny on the Disney Channel. Of course, the next thought that pops into my mind is: Handy Manny could use a President like Obama who will stand up for middle class folks and small businesses. I mean, what if Manny can’t get the loan he needs to keep himself and all those tools employed? These are hardly lucid thoughts. My lack of sleep is apparent once again.

And even the stilted conversations at the playground have to work very hard to avoid the topic of politics. We all try but… really, what else is there to talk about? The Red Sox? Yeah, that’s good. My son’s math quiz? Eh, ok. “Did you hear that Obama and Brad Pitt are related?” “No way!” Red alert, politics approaching. “Did anyone see SNL?” Ok, here we go. I give up.

And have you tried to get a cup of coffee at 7-eleven recently? There is no escape there either. You can pick your own Obama or McCain coffee cup and declare your vote to the world. All of those Joe and Jane Six-packs, familiar after standing in the same convenience store line every morning, are suddenly having to “out” themselves politically. Will it get weird for them now? Will there be a throw down?

I am hardly the only one suffering from the tension of this election. While I have had some positive experiences with my Obama paraphernalia recently (“I love your t-shirt!”, “I love your car!”, smiles, waves, “woo-hoo”s) – other friends have experienced the opposite. And the spray painted “X” through the only Obama sign I’ve seen sent me into a woeful, angry tailspin this afternoon. It seems as if our nation is slowly fading into two shades of citizen right now: blue or red. A line is being drawn down the middle of our lives – a line I can’t seem avoid no matter how hard I try.

So help me out. How do we take a mental break from this election and spiraling economy? Certainly, we can not afford to give up on it all together – but what are some ways to regain our strength? How can we wake up with a fresh perspective, re-energized and ready for November 4th? Here are some of my suggestions that I will swear to try – simply for my own sanity:

  • Exercise. Lots of it. And don’t play any Ani DiFranco on the Ipod either.
  • Play with your children outside: the grass, the kids, the birds, the sidewalk chalk, the bicycles are all bi-partisan, I promise.
  • No news after 8pm. Say “No” to Keith Olbermann (which is hard for me) but say a heartfelt “YES!” to Project Runway.
  • Turn off the computer at night. (Even I am muttering out loud here,”You’re kidding, right?”)
  • Read a book. Something brilliant, funny and distracting. Perhaps something by Jennifer Weiner?
  • Take up a craft. I actually did some painting recently. Not good painting, but it was distracting.
  • While sitting criss-cross applesauce on a yoga mat with a candle burning and your eyes closed, repeat to yourself: “Everything will be ok…” until you actually believe it.

In the midst of all of this political and economic stress, what are your ways to remain calm? Or even better, how do you simply sane? Please share. I desperately need some help. We all do!

Cross posted at Type A Moms.



Filed under Economy, Election, McCain, Obama, Partisanship, Politics, Reality check, Self-analysis

4 responses to “Political Burnout: Has the Election Taken Over Your Life?

  1. Aly

    I am happy that we have less than a month to go before all of this will be decided. I am also severely burned out on politics.

    I’m tired of the negative ads. I’m tired of the debates being so boring that I’m not learning anything more about the candidates (game on guys!). I’m tired of the network battle of CNN saying Obama won this and FOX saying McCain won that — they could each be wearing a tutu and a multi-colored clown wig and CNN would cheer on Obama while FOX would say McCain looks smarter in his wig. The blinders are on and it doesn’t leave much room for people to make -THEIR OWN- decisions.

    I haven’t been excited about an election since I registered to vote in my first one my freshman year in college. It seems we become more and more divided as a country every time campaign season starts.

    I remember standing in line to vote at the last election and a group of young Republicans were also standing in line bashing everything Democratic. Very loudly. They weren’t even saying anything with merit. It was just basically an, “If you’re a Democrat, you’re dumb” conversation among themselves. I just don’t understand why we don’t come together as a country instead of bashing each other.

    I am more than ready to spend my evenings talking to my husband about what words our son will start saying next, how Top Chef Season 5 will be, what chores we have to do around the house this weekend and how SNL is going to suck after Amy Poehler leaves.

    I guess we can say it’s been a more exciting political season than Kerry Vs. Bush, though. Should we be thankful?

  2. sarahpekkanen

    Hi there —

    Totally agree with you about politics… 🙂 and I live just outside of DC!
    If you have a minute, I’d love it if you’d check out my website and let me know what you think. ( http://www.sarahpekkanen.com ) I’m a brand new author who just signed a publishing contract with the same house as Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner. If you like the site and want to sign up for my private email list (box on my homepage) I’ll email you the first chapter as soon as I can. I’d really like to get thoughts from readers, not just reviewers!

  3. I love these ideas. I realized this week how cynical the prolonged election is making me feel. I used to do election work and love the excitement. But I think the long Obama/Clinton fight wore a lot of us down, and then to be hit with McCain/Palin it’s all just toooooo much. I like the idea of a break. I think I’m going to do a depression-era escape trick and tuck myself into a steady stream of movies!

  4. Jennifer

    Wow, I have been dying to meet someone just like you! I could be your twin (4 year older sister). I too am driving an obnoxious eye-grabber (in my case a 6 year old extra long white mini-van filled with baseball equipment, Gatorade Bottles and Girl Scout supplies) with the Obama-Biden insignia….. I actually got a thumbs up at a stop light yesterday from a white middle aged dude in a tricked out Lincoln Navigator. Yeah, we need more of that demographics.

    I live in the lovely swing state of Pennsylvania, specifically in the Central part where my street is littered with McCain-Palin signs and my Obama sticker is a dead give away to everyone that I must not believe Christ is my savior (I do, but I don’t think they believe I could). Hey everyone on Clermont Drive!!!, I actually can be Christian, not choose to abort my disabled unborn child (but reserve others the right to control their bodies) AND support a BLACK DEMOCRAT!!!! Unthinkable!

    I don’t have a blog (just wish I did), am a mother of 3 (J. 9, M. 7, and P. 5) the middle peanut being of the female persuasion. Love God and my Country while supporting the idea that everyone in this country needs a helping hand and social programs are necessary for the continuation and well being of the USA. I believe Healthcare and Education are a crumbling mess and need major reform. I believe that I live in the best country on earth, I just want the rest of the earthlings to believe it again, hopefully with new leadership we will be able to convince them. The middle class shall rise again!

    Wow, well I shall get down from my podium and go to bed……. turn off the computer and block out the election for at least 7 hours, until I awake to the sweet sound of NPR.


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