Is there really SIX MORE months of political campaigning?
By Sparta Live | May 7, 2018 7:08 am
Democratic Dialog – By Debra Wines
I must admit, I am burning out already, and there is still a very long road ahead of us in this 2018 election cycle. The campaigning and fundraising for the 2018 elections started at the end of last year and is going to continue until November. That length of time is not only energy draining for the candidates but for everyone who follows politics. If we aren’t being inundated by commercials for candidates, political parties telling us they know what is best for us, then we are being “called to action” for bills and laws that are being presented by our local, state, and federal lawmakers. I know the importance of being involved and learning as much as we can about the candidates who want our votes and what our legislators are doing. Yet, it feels as if it is becoming more difficult to maintain a sense of balance in our daily lives. It seems the longer these political campaigns go on the more people almost need to turn off the “noise.” Perhaps we should follow the example of some European countries and limit the time for campaigns prior to an election. Personally, I’m already tired of hearing about who may run for president in 2020. Could we finish with the 2018 elections first?
I know I am not alone in my feelings. Lately, we have been hearing about the increase of depression and anxiety levels in everyday people living in America. According to a 2017 report from the American Psychological Association, the most common sources of stress were: 63% – The Future of Our Nation; 62% – Money; 61% – Work; 57% – Current Political Climate; 51% – Violence and Crime. This study also showed that when the source of people’s stress, anxiety, and depression was related to areas of politics, members of both parties and Independents were afflicted.
Americans have experienced anxiety, stress, and depression many times in the past. Those feelings are at their heights during times of war, financial depressions, assassinations of political and activist leaders, and during acts of terrorism. Communities that have experienced natural disasters or some kind of devastating event have seen anxiety, stress, and depression increase. This is to be expected, because so many times the lack of control in specific situations will cause the mind and body to fight for some sense of normalcy, and when we can’t find it or it seems to elude us, we start to shut down emotionally. The process is very similar to grieving the loss of a loved one. How we survive is sometimes based on our support system, our faith, and our ability to pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and keep moving forward. In a lot of cases, we seek professional help when it is available.
The level of uncertainly can be greatly reduced when people feel they have a common cause and they are working together to improve situations or circumstances. What we have been witnessing since Donald Trump’s presidential election has been anything but normal in the White House or even in Washington, D.C. Mr. Trump’s staunch supporters believe this kind of chaos is good, because it’s shaking things up. I can understand that way of thinking. I believe all Americans had grown tired of the partisan bickering and inability to get important issues addressed and dealt with in our Congress for the last several years. I remember, prior to the 2014 and 2016 elections, the American public was giving Congress the lowest approval ratings ever seen. I also remember people hoping Donald Trump would be able to bring the Republican Party together and unite the American people with his slogan, “Make America Great Again.” Many of Mr. Trump’s supporters hoped that someone from outside of Washington D.C. would move Congress from inaction to actually doing something good for our country. I understood that feeling. I believe many Democrats and Independents wanted the same thing. We were all growing weary of the partisanship that was causing roadblocks at every turn toward progress and more effective and efficient governing.
The 2016 election cycle was ugly. There is no other way to describe it. Those who tried to stay above the fray and focus on issues got caught up in the drama of dirty and hypocritical politics at its worst. It didn’t matter if a candidate was trying his or her best to focus on the concerns and issues affecting their constituents. They had to put their energy into fighting personal attacks and try to do their best to compete against opponents who had never-ending sources of funding. They also had to find new and innovative ways to communicate with the people. All the candidates running for any office, whether it was on the state or federal level, had to compete with the media coverage given to Donald Trump. Mr. Trump was an expert in that field. He knew exactly how to get the attention of the media for his campaign because he had been perfecting that particular skill for years. I get the feeling he firmly believes in the old saying, “There is no such thing as bad publicity, as long as they spell your name right.” It looks as if he is running his presidency and White House in the same manner.
In this current election cycle, it turns out some Republicans running for office and re-election are following in Mr. Trump’s footsteps. This type of politicking does not bode well for our country. In my opinion, too many good candidates who are trying to stick to the issues are being drowned out by their opponents who are using Mr. Trump’s campaign playbook. The main tone of their campaigns appears to be “repeat the ‘alternative facts’ long enough and loud enough, and people will believe them.” Their MO is to instill fear in people and then tell them only HE or SHE can fix their problems and end that fear. If a candidate feels there is a need to suggest a way to solve a “problem,” they must make sure they don’t give any specific details. Also, they must gear their comments and possible solutions to each specific audience and convince them that their opponent doesn’t care about them, and all the other candidates will go out of their way to make the audiences’ lives more miserable than they are now. As a Trump supporting candidate, they must always mention God, patriotic duty, and emphasize that only the government knows what is best for majority of Americans, while they maintain the philosophy of “less government involvement” is better for everyone.
Let me add, the abovementioned tactics are not just being used by Republican candidates. There are some Democrats, most of them running for re-election, who feel that if those methods worked for Mr. Trump, perhaps they can use them to their advantage. The problem with any candidate using these strategies is that it is dishonest and demeaning to the voting public. Yes, I said demeaning. I believe one of the reasons we are in so much turmoil right now is because what the voters want is the truth, and we are not getting that. We want our leaders to be honest with us. We want them care about us; our families; friends; communities; our education; our healthcare system; our human and civil rights; our justice system; and in essence, our future and the future of our country. I believe part of the reason for so much apathy toward politics, politicians, and our government is because we have lost any sense of faith in our elected leaders. We don’t expect them to tell us the truth. We don’t expect them to care about the majority of us because their actions make us feel as if we are not important enough for them to care about.
It is understandable that so many people feel as if they have lost a great deal of control over our lives because of the kind of people who are running our state and federal governments. Our sense of optimism and hope seems to diminish more and more with the quality of people running for public office, especially those who are running for re-election. It doesn’t help our feelings of anxiety, or even a bit of despair, when we look at an election ballot and see the same names over and over again and so few new choices.