Tired Of Politics?
It’s about that time again. The 2020 Presidential election is right around the corner, and if your experience during the 2016 election was anything like mine, odds are the mere thought of any sort of political conversation brings about a tangible feeling of dread and exhaustion.
The 2016 Presidential election was life-altering for me in that it was the first election in which I was of age to vote, and yet the results left me feeling dejected and powerless. The racism, sexism, homophobia and overall bigotry demonstrated by the new administration was nothing new, but it was on display in a new light.
For me, the election was a marker on my life’s timeline where I could draw a very clear before and after. Prior to this I was able to move through a world not cut out for me by means of assimilation and a turn-the-other-cheek ethic. After the election, social injustice came to light to me in a way that incited me to action.
Following the election, I became more politically active and vocal than ever. I marched in the Women’s March, I called my senators, I donated to various organizations, I signed petitions. I used my platforms as a writer to educate people about feminism and intersectionality and microaggressions and activism.
But over time, political conversations slowly began to take more and more of a toll on me because they weren’t just conversations about abstract ideas and concepts. They were deeply personal conversations that had implications about what it means to be a person who looks like myself. I stopped calling my senators. I stopped donating to organizations. I nearly dragged myself to the polls for the Midterm elections.
Political fatigue, it seems, is a kind of exhaustion that people of color in America know all too well. It is difficult to put your trust in a political system that was not built for you (but rather vehemently against you) in the first place. Yet, more often than not, people of color are at the forefront of political activism, fighting for equal rights of all people.
On one hand, it often feels much easier to opt out of politics entirely as a means of self-preservation. On the other, I recognize the historical significance of a Black woman, like myself, being able to participate in the political process in this country at all. I am also well aware of my responsibility as a person with academic and socio-economic privilege to participate in the political process to the best of my ability.
This upcoming election season I am doing my best to balance my responsibility to participate in the political process with my need to protect my energy and nurture myself. I thought it’d be helpful to share some of the tips I’ll be implementing to help me get through spurts of political fatigue.
Don’t perform, be informed.
In the past I have used social media as a platform to share my frustrations on current events in politics, and have even found community in doing so. While I still think that social media is an incredible way to stay informed and inform others, I also recognize how quickly one can fall into a hole of performativeness.
I’ve often found myself feeling pressured to share certain screenshots or use specific hashtags as a way to signal my political engagement to the world. This behavior only breeds anxiety and more political exhaustion. I have resolved this election season to refrain from making posts online from a performative mindset. My political involvement is not limited to how much I share and repost on social media. At the same time, I am using social media as a resource to stay informed about certain issues in addition to outside research including articles, podcasts and other helpful resources.
In general, I have begun to embrace the idea that everything is nuanced. This is something I’m keeping in mind when researching candidates for this upcoming election. With so many options, it can be difficult to really know who the “best” candidate really is.
Operating under a black-and-white mindset has been a source of exhaustion for me in the past when it comes to political conversations. Yet, operating with the mindset that even the “best” candidate could not fix all of the problems in our country, in my opinion, is more grounded way enter into the process. Embracing nuance helps me remember that my participation in the political process is simply a matter of doing the best I can with the information available to me.
This election cycle I am making a point to set boundaries around how I engage politically. This may look different from person to person. For me, setting boundaries looks taking a slower approach to consuming political media.
With such an influx of political media, there is often pressure to keep up with all the he-said’s and she-said’s, quickly forming concrete opinions on very complex matters. Instead of drowning myself in articles and podcasts in the hopes of being updated on all the hottest takes, I’m taking my time, allowing myself to digest everything at my own pace.
I’ve found that talking with others openly about my fatigue has been a great way to process my feelings around politics. The friends that I’ve talked to have all been very affirming of my feelings and incredibly resourceful. They’ve encouraged me to take care of myself in the ways that I need to, while always sharing resources that will help me stay informed.
Being honest about where I’m at personally with politics helps me heal from my experiences with the last election in a way that opting out of political conversations altogether does not offer. If you’re experiencing political fatigue as a result of the last election cycle, I encourage you to consider sharing your experiences with a friend as well.
Do you have any tips or encouragements for navigating political fatigue? Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below 💛