If we’re being honest about how we feel about this election season, I sometimes find myself starting to fade.
On one side, I have my friends making a case for how Bernie Sanders is getting stiffed by media bias. On the other, I have friends making the case for why your skepticism of Hillary Clinton is rooted in sexism.
I’ve gone through something resembling a grieving process to get to the point of accepting that Donald Trump as president strikes anyone as a good idea and again through a similar cycle when considering Ted Cruz, who, in many ways, strikes me as even more of a terrifying bummer.
Then there are, of course, my Green friends, who remind me it’s all a sham. We need a new system. We need to support Jill Stein.
When it’s not the election burning me out, it is the whole world going to hell at the hands of religious extremism. Or, to be more precise, it is the reality television star/presidential candidate reminding us that the whole world is going to hell in this way. And it is the media gathering around this tail-eating snake, neglecting to report the truly catastrophic dangers associated with global climate change.
It turns out the former NASA researcher and forefather of climate change awareness says the effects of climate change, which are not only real and manmade but quantifiable and unquestionably upon us, are much worse than expected. Maybe you heard that recently. Then again, maybe you didn’t. It turns out, despite being a banner year for climate-related news, the networks cut their climate coverage on the whole last year. ABC had a nearly 60 percent drop in its coverage last year, devoting only 13 minutes to a subject that is arguably the greatest and most complicated challenge we’ll have ever had to face together.
But, hey. What’s the latest on Donald Trump’s fixation on his … manhood?
Speaking of The Donald, my daughter hates him and not based on any imposed ideology. One day, he was on the radio, and she said he sounded really mean.
It’s hard to describe Trump to a child, especially considering that a key part of getting kids ready for the world is teaching them to act with dignity and respect. Meanwhile, this guy has suggested that all women are gold diggers and on at least one occasion implied he’s sexually attracted to his daughter. It’s hard to make the case to a child that virtue is worth all that much if someone so committed to being without it is the front-runner for his party’s presidential nomination.
Ironically, not long ago I was chastised by a number of readers for suggesting I let my young daughter watch the latest “Mad Max” film. Your kid is going to teach my kid to be vulgar, they said. But at least “Fury Road” has the undertones of a universalist message. Have you tried explaining an actual politician who calls women pigs to your kid yet? If your kid comes home thinking it’s okay to be crass and act terribly, look no further than those on the road to the White House.
So, yeah, I’m exhausted, and I guiltily find myself tuning it out more or working later or listening to music instead of the radio or gravitating toward movies instead of checking out the news.
But I can afford to get burned out and look the other way because the stakes, while high in a larger sense, aren’t as high for me as they are for other people. The conversation I have to have with my daughter about Trump isn’t as difficult as the one parents have to have with children who literally are having nightmares because they are afraid Trump is going to target members of their families.
Just the other day a friend who works with members of the immigrant community told me that one of his colleagues, who wears a headscarf, has felt safe in Maine throughout her adolescence but over the course of the past handful of months has been followed and begun to feel unsettled and unsafe.
I’m burned out and annoyed by the over-saturation of coverage and related narrative of chaos, but the stakes are very real and immediate for many. Serious threats — climate catastrophe, religious fanaticism, a renewed comfort with outward racism — are real and looming. We can’t afford to let people running for office ignore these things, grandstand in the face of them, offer nonsense when confronted by them or use them to rally their base to authoritarian ends. They need to make actual attempts to understand and responsibly address them. We can’t have people who don’t represent us.
Any time I feel fatigued or bored or start to drift off, this is what I remind myself.
Alex Steed has written about and engaged in politics since he was a teenager. He’s an owner-partner of a Portland-based content production company and lives with his family, dogs and garden in Cornish.