I’ll go ahead and admit something. I am a hopeless politics junky. The entire process fascinates me, and an election cycle makes me behave like a degenerate gambler screaming at his television during the Super Bowl. I think if I’m honest, I’m more emotionally invested in the savage insanity of the entire three-ring circus that is our political system than I am in who actually emerges victorious. One would think that at the culmination of the presidential race, I would either breathe a sigh of relief or angrily admit defeat (dependent upon my political persuasion, which I’m not inclined to divulge here). Instead, I found myself feeling a little sad and empty, which led to desperately clinging to any minor political news I could get my hands on. When you find yourself refreshing the politics page on CNN.com at three in the morning to see who’s been appointed Secretary of Agriculture, it’s time to admit you have a problem.
Our media doesn’t help, of course. They hyperbolize the tiniest minutiae of the political process so that every pathetically minor decision made by either party is subjected to scrutiny by an array of white-haired, jowly analysts who seem to be competing for the “Most Easily Incredulous” award. They’ve turned the fate of our nation into a reality TV program full of prefabricated drama that sad, gluttonous geeks like me eat up.
But now that the whole depressing, dizzying, farcical scene has wound down, I’ve had to find other ways to fill my time. Coping mechanisms, if you will. If you’re anything like me, you may have felt the jolting low of dangerously depleted adrenaline reserves after the end of this cycle, and I hope these few steps help you get through it.
Examine Your Character
I certainly can’t say that this galvanizing campaign cycle has improved my overall character. Best case scenario, it’s caused me to ignore it for a few months. I’ve spent a long time trying to poke holes in the character of my rivals. It’s time to take stock of my own. If anything, the election drama can be a bit of an uncomfortable mirror to our own flaws and shortcomings. After so many months of focusing on outward events, take some time to look inward. Here’s an unpleasant question to ask: What has been my motivation for so adamantly supporting the issues I do? Is it because they matter to God, and matter to me on a deep and fundamental level, or is it to prove I’m right? Ouch. In many cases, the issues we support have true worth and merit, but our motives have been entirely self-serving. I can’t say this is a fun step in getting over the post-election blues, but it’s necessary.
Become More Globally Aware
Since I live in New Zealand, my first attempt at this came in the form of becoming incredibly passionate about New Zealand politics. But, since this was merely replacing one addiction with another, and since I soon realized that New Zealand’s prevailing attitude toward domestic politics was, “Meh,” I moved on. It’s important to remember that America is not the world. Within the confines of a political season, it’s quite easy to become incredibly insular. There are a lot of global issues out there that need our attention. An AIDS crisis, world poverty, the lack of clean water—all of these are issues that, as people mandated to show God’s love and mercy, it is imperative we focus our energies on. Moreover, all the issues that we were so passionate about during the election have not simply vanished. Now comes the opportunity to put our money where our incredibly hyperactive mouths have been, and do something about them on a grassroots level.
Develop a Productive Hobby
Being an armchair political analyst is sad at best and destructive at worst. It’s really just a more socially conscious version of being a Star Trek geek, and they at least get Shatner’s autograph for their troubles. So, try refocusing your hobbies toward things that actually improve you as a person. I’ve taken to reading a lot of classic literature I should have read when I was sleeping through class in college. For others, it could be something like exercise. Self-improvement easily falls by the wayside when we feel so much is at stake in the area of national improvement. I truly believe God wants to see us become more well-rounded individuals, and a productive hobby can be part of that process.
Patch Up Some Friendships
Nothing is as efficient at pitting brother against brother as the American political system. We tend to get so swept up in our own ideals that we end up letting our tongue get the better of us. In my case, I have a dearly beloved uncle who resides on the polar opposite end of the political spectrum from me. Our email exchanges over the last few months have been the electronic equivalent of a barroom brawl. If we’re honest, we probably all have had some conversations we need to apologize for. Politics is a passionate business, and those passions can flare up in ways that damage relationships. It’s time to remember that, even if we disagree, we’re still children of God and need to treat each other with love and dignity.
So, if you follow these few simple steps, you can pull yourself out of the post-election malaise and perhaps wind up a better, more level-headed person for it. I’m hoping that some of this newfound wisdom will help keep me from getting unduly carried away in 2012, and that I can engage the political process in a more Christlike, reasoned fashion. In the meantime, though, there’s a couple more Senate races that are still undecided.