I’m sure I’m not alone in being in a fairly perpetual state of anxiety about incoming Trump presidency.
Take a look at this Google trends chart:
However, for balance – the search volume for anxiety doesn’t appear to have particularly spiked, it just has a continuing steady upward trend.
I find myself spending a lot of time thinking, and watching news commentary about whether this means Russia is going to invade its neighbours, what’s going to happen to the economy in the light of Trump protectionism, etc.
Thing is – there have been plenty of political crises in my lifetime, and even before I was born. The Cuban Missile Crisis, the Thatcher government, the collapse of the Soviet Union, September 11.
While all of these events have clearly shaped the world we live in, it’s reasonable to say that my paying attention to them or not hasn’t had any effect on how they’ve played out.
If paying attention to and engaging with the current climate of politics is causing me anxiety and is disrupting my life, then perhaps the best individual course of action is for me to quit engaging.
But: Lack of voter engagement and uninformed voters seems to be precisely one of the things that got us into this mess in the first place.
While the Trump phenomena can’t be explained by any single dynamic – I think that out of touch politicians doing what they want to do without regard for their voter base, and disenfranchised voters is one of the key contributing factors that elected Trump.
It would seem that me dropping my engagement would indicate a further exasperation of this dynamic. That’s concerning.
One positive is that this does increase my empathy for low-engagement voters. When potential voters say ‘I don’t really pay attention to politics’ or vote along the lines of a single buzzword, or say ‘voting doesn’t change anything’ – I’m a lot more sympathetic – because it seems true – whatever happens is going to happen anyway – I might as well spend my effort worrying about something I can change.