Elec­tion angst gives way to hope

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FEATURES - Laura Cata­lano Colum­nist

The pres­i­den­tial elec­tion is al­most here. It’s hard to imag­ine that any­one in Amer­ica is un­happy about that. In fact, I read last week that more than half of Amer­i­cans, 52 per­cent, are stressed out by this elec­tion. Count me among the ma­jor­ity.

The night af­ter the sec­ond de­bate I was so dis­turbed by the con­tentious­ness be­tween the can­di­dates that I had a night­mare in which the two of them were shout­ing, dis­em­bod­ied heads, em­broiled in a fear­some ar­gu­ment.

You’d think I would have learned my les­son and taken a step back from the me­dia on­slaught sur­round­ing the elec­tion. In­stead, I’ve fu­eled my own anx­i­ety with an at­ten­tion that bor­ders on ob­ses­sion.

Book­marked on my com­puter are no less than five dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal news sites. I fol­low many more on so­cial me­dia. And I check them all through­out the day — first thing in the morn­ing, at lunch, and once again when I get home from work. Pe­ri­od­i­cally, I sneak peeks at elec­toral map sce­nar­ios just to see if any­thing has changed.

But, at this point, I’ve spent enough nights cow­er­ing un­der my cov­ers, ag­o­niz­ing over ev­ery bad thing that might hap­pen to Amer­ica’s fu­ture. I’ve de­cided to de­vote this col­umn to list­ing some of the good that may have come out of this elec­tion.

• It’s been one great civics les­son: Ask me any­thing about the Elec­toral Col­lege. In the past, I found it some­what con­fus­ing. Not any­more. I’ve stud­ied elec­toral maps ev­ery day for months. I know which states are red, which are blue and which have the most elec­toral votes. And I fully un­der­stand why it mat­ters. I’ve also got­ten a pretty de­cent grasp on voter ID laws. It’s amaz­ing what you can learn when you are fu­eled by elec­tion anx­i­ety.

• It’s en­gaged the youth: And by youth I mostly mean my 18-yearold son who will be vot­ing in his first elec­tion. He’s never been po­lit­i­cally at­ten­tive, so I was sur­prised when he ar­rived home last week­end ea­ger to share sev­eral YouTube videos that dis­sected each can­di­date’s stance on health care and tax plans. While I fret over daily polls, my son is study­ing the is­sues. Even Nate Sil­ver’s FiveThir­tyEight couldn’t have pre­dicted that.

• I’m more in­formed about ev­ery­thing: When you sub­scribe to five dif­fer­ent me­dia sources and check them daily you stum­ble upon lots of in­ter­est­ing news from around the world. Sure plenty of it is bad news, but not all. How about those con­joined twins that were sep­a­rated? Pretty in­spir­ing, right?

• I’ve learned to be more re­spon­si­ble with so­cial me­dia: Not that I was ever con­tribut­ing ir­re­spon­si­bly, but for a while I de­vel­oped a habit of check­ing what was trend­ing on Twit­ter. Don’t do this. If you want to main­tain your faith in hu­man­ity, fol­low only peo­ple you trust or rep­utable sources. The po­lit­i­cal trend­ing hash tags are no cure for elec­tion angst.

• The de­bates drew huge au­di­ences: Ap­a­thetic we are not. We’ve all been lec­tured on the dan­gers of ap­a­thy, so I’ll count that as a good thing even as I dream of one day re­turn­ing to a less en­gaged state.

• We’ve prob­a­bly all learned a thing or two about tol­er­ance: Oh, there’s no doubt this elec­tion is fo­cused on in­tol­er­ance, with dis­cus­sions that are some­times fright­en­ing about mass de­por­ta­tions, stop and frisk and sex­ual as­sault. But,

a gi­nor­mous po­lit­i­cal di­vide has split our coun­try, and we all have neigh­bors, friends, rel­a­tives and co­work­ers stand­ing on the op­po­site side. Do we think they are crazy? Maybe. Nev­er­the­less, most of us have learned to be qui­etly tol­er­ant. My own spouse

eggs me on some evenings by de­fend­ing the op­pos­ing view­point. I don’t take the bait. I’ve seen po­lit­i­cal de­bates turn ugly. Be­sides, I know I’m the more in­formed per­son in our house­hold. I’ve watched my son’s YouTube videos and he hasn’t.

• More peo­ple may vote: I hope the best thing to come out of this elec­tion is that it gets peo­ple out to vote. My old­est daugh­ter

in­formed me that she had reg­is­tered to vote for the first time af­ter mov­ing back to Penn­syl­va­nia sev­eral years ago. I hope we have a his­toric, record­break­ing turnout at the polls. Be­cause our power as Amer­i­cans is in our vote.

• It will all be over soon: Will things go back to nor­mal once the elec­tion is over? I don’t think so. But we won’t have to watch a pres­i­den­tial de­bate for four years. And that right there feels like a brighter fu­ture for our coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.