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As my husband and I were headed out of town on Friday for a weekend away, he turned to me and said, “I have one request while we’re gone. No news.”
Like so many long-suffering spouses before him, my husband has been forced to endure more than his fair share of political commentary over the last 15 months. Towards the beginning of the campaign season he would engage in my debates, but now he smiles and quietly backs out of the room.
“Just because you’re not outwardly angry,” he told me at one point, “doesn’t mean this election isn’t consuming you.”
While I’m not sure consume is the right word, distraction certainly feels appropriate.
Lately I’ve been spending almost two hours in the morning reading and watching campaign coverage and about the same amount of time in the evening before bed. That’s close to four hours total – or just under 16 percent of my day.
Clearly the net effect has not been positive, which is why I decided to accept my husband’s challenge and (mostly) disconnect over the weekend. Banned from talking about the election, we chatted about more endearing things – like a dad, for example, who melted the Internet by arranging for his daughter to trick-or-treat on a plane because she missed it in her neighborhood.
This is the America we all know – and it won’t end tomorrow regardless of who wins.
Even so….on Wednesday morning it’s inevitable that we’ll wake up with half the country thrilled and the other half disappointed. That’s politics. But the conversation will continue – and that’s democracy.
In fact, if there’s one thing I’ve learned from the last year – now that I’ve had a few hours of freedom to reflect on it – it’s that the discourse we’ve come to loathe in this cycle is actually what makes the whole thing work. Conversation is key – the only problem is that we’ve become really, really bad at it.
In other words, somewhere along the way we’ve forgotten how to disagree without viewing one another as a threat to the country itself. I confess I’ve been guilty of this, but one tool that has helped enormously lately is a nonjudgement practice called “just like me.” Simply put, the next time you feel the urge to judge someone, add the phrase “just like me” to the end.
For instance: “This guy is a total insufferable blowhard…just like me.”
Try this and you may find yourself doing the one thing we all need right now – laughing.
We’ve got a lot of work to do together America, and humor is mandatory.
So… as this long and strangely addicting election finally comes to an end, if you haven’t already cast your ballot, I hope you will go to the polls tomorrow and vote as if your country depends on it – it does – and vote for the noble ideals we aspire to achieve, yet so imperfectly embody. Vote for the best in us as demonstrated by hundreds of people who came together to make one little girl smile but, most of all, vote for us.
The road ahead will be long and frustrating but there’s no doubt it will be lined with patriots who love their country…just like you.