Vote Bi­den, and make the pres­i­dency bor­ing again

Chicago Sun-Times - - OPINION - S.E. CUPP @se­cupp S.E. Cupp is the host of “S.E. Cupp Un­fil­tered” on CNN.

Iheard a strange ru­mor re­cently that there are peo­ple out there, far, far away, who don’t spend the ma­jor­ity of their time think­ing about pol­i­tics. In­stead of ob­sess­ing over tweets, binge­ing on cable news 24/7, and pulling their hair out over the all-caps STATE OF OUR NA­TION, they’re — ahem — liv­ing their lives.

I envy these peo­ple. But for many of us, pol­i­tics in the era of Trump has de­manded our nearly un­di­vided at­ten­tion. I’m not talking about those of us whose jobs re­quire it, but ev­ery­day Amer­i­cans who feel as though pol­i­tics has be­come too im­por­tant to ig­nore.

Some are part of the so-called Re­sis­tance, the le­gions of Amer­i­cans who for one rea­son (or all of them) be­lieve Pres­i­dent Trump is the sin­gle great­est threat to our democ­racy and way of life. And some are Trump sup­port­ers, who be­lieve keep­ing him in of­fice is the sin­gle most im­por­tant is­sue of their life­times, that Trump is quite sim­ply the last thing stand­ing be­tween a white na­tion­al­ist civ­i­liza­tion and the cul­ture-can­cel­ing Visig­oths.

Ei­ther way, for many Amer­i­cans, pol­i­tics, and es­pe­cially pres­i­den­tial pol­i­tics, loom large over nearly ev­ery as­pect of life. It of­ten de­ter­mines where we live, how we spend our time, what we watch, who our friends are. Ev­ery­thing from watch­ing foot­ball to maskwear­ing has be­come politi­cized, That is, to put it gen­tly, aw­ful. Pol­i­tics and govern­ment weren’t meant to be the om­nipresent cen­ter of grav­ity in our daily lives, all but re­plac­ing fam­ily, com­mu­nity, work or church.

Our elected of­fi­cials were never meant to be celebri­ties or cult fig­ures who de­manded our undy­ing at­ten­tion and ado­ra­tion. Pres­i­den­tial elec­tions weren’t meant to be four-year events that bleed seam­lessly into one an­other. Our psy­cho­log­i­cal well­be­ing shouldn’t be de­pen­dent on who is in of­fice.

And yet, Amer­i­can anx­i­ety lev­els are at a fever pitch, and pol­i­tics is a huge fac­tor. Per the Amer­i­can Psy­chi­atric As­so­ci­a­tion’s “Stress in Amer­ica” sur­vey, in 2018, 69% said the fu­ture of the na­tion was a sig­nif­i­cant source of stress, while 62% said the po­lit­i­cal cli­mate was. Those num­bers rose in the wake of the 2016 elec­tion, and long be­fore the added stress of the COVID-19 pan­demic.

This is sim­ply not sus­tain­able. And that is why the Bi­den cam­paign is smart to not only ad­dress the con­stant chaos and con­fu­sion of the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion, but to prom­ise to re­turn the out­sized stature of pol­i­tics to its right­fully diminu­tive place if elected in Novem­ber.

A new Bi­den ad opens with this ques­tion to vot­ers: “Re­mem­ber when you didn’t have to think about the pres­i­dent ev­ery sin­gle day? And in­stead, there was some­one in that of­fice who thought about you?”

Ac­cord­ing to CNN, the ad is part of a na­tional cable cam­paign tar­get­ing Black vot­ers, but its


un­ques­tion­able ap­peal is far from lim­ited.

“That line cap­tures how a lot of peo­ple feel,” a Bi­den aide told CNN. “You want to be able to pick up your phone in the morn­ing and not be out­raged or scared. You want a govern­ment that works.”

Or, a govern­ment you sim­ply don’t have to think about all that of­ten; a govern­ment that ex­ists merely to gov­ern, and not con­sume your ev­ery wak­ing thought; a govern­ment that re­volves around you, and not the other way around.

It has been harder, ob­vi­ously, dur­ing the pan­demic, the ex­act time when you need govern­ment to step into an out­sized role. But Trump has shrunk from that re­spon­si­bil­ity, in­stead mak­ing it about him, ac­cus­ing Democrats of us­ing a virus that has killed more than 180,000 Amer­i­cans un­der his watch to hurt his re­elec­tion.

A good grasp of the role of govern­ment has proven elu­sive to Trump dur­ing the racial and civil un­rest that’s tear­ing through the na­tion, too. In­stead of us­ing the bully pul­pit to calm fears, he has used tear gas on peace­ful pro­test­ers and threat­ened mil­i­tary in­volve­ment, only ratch­et­ing up the ten­sion.

Trump’s un­der­stand­ing of govern­ment is al­most al­ways wrong: ab­sent when you need it most, in­tru­sive when you need it least, and ex­ist­ing only to ful­fill his own self-in­ter­ested needs.

We sure could use a break from this. Now more than ever, we need to fo­cus on heal­ing our fam­i­lies and our com­mu­ni­ties and not on the fed­eral govern­ment. And we need a pres­i­dent who gets that.

So, I don’t need Joe Bi­den to prom­ise to solve all our prob­lems — he shouldn’t. But if he’s promis­ing to be less im­por­tant in my life and yours, well, that’s frankly the kind of relief we all des­per­ately need.


Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Joe Bi­den speaks Mon­day at a cam­paign event in Pitts­burgh.

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