How to not give up on humanity during an election year?
September 26, 2023 8:53 PM   Subscribe

During the last two presidential election years, there’s been a lot of Trump-y awfulness in my community. I did my best to help my kid make sense of what she saw each day, but sometimes I was too angry about what I’d seen to frame anything constructively for her. As 2024 approaches, I am worried that we have another ugly year ahead of us. What are your strategies for living through 2024 without losing faith in the humanity of those around you?
posted by TEA to Human Relations (13 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Help win the election. Realize you couldn't possibly do it if not for a lot of the rest of humanity.
posted by Flunkie at 9:47 PM on September 26 [4 favorites]

I plan to continue being passionate about what is important to me but also avoid doomscrolling, disengage from heated discussions with people unwilling to be civil, and also accept that none of this crap is new or a surprise. (It’s disappointing and disheartening and scary but it’s sadly no longer unexpected.)

For real though? A few years ago I moved back the blue bubble I grew up in and I’m so much happier. There’s lots of bullshit and pretense, sure, but I no longer need to explain why people of xyz-group are humans and should be treated humanely and with respect. I am part of a marginalized group and not constantly fearing for my safety or employment makes everyday life much better, ahem. Of course, I know not everyone has this option or wants to move — I used to be all about staying and fighting, which I respect so much!! However, we can all find spaces that are welcoming and inclusive, be they in person locally or globally online. Tanking up on good energy and being around likeminded people really, really helps!
posted by smorgasbord at 9:57 PM on September 26 [8 favorites]

I find it helps me to look back on source documents surrounding the fabled Lincoln-Douglas debates. Here’s one talking about Douglas’ campaign support team and another describing how the debates were going.[language warning]

It is a reminder to me that things of vital importance grow from all of this muck, and that our ancestors weren’t living in a world devoid of the cynicism and partisanship that we face. What they could do we can do, and the ugliness is part of the process.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 11:05 PM on September 26 [3 favorites]

Fight to defeat Fascist Republicanism with every ounce of strength you have. Everyone standing together and saying enough is enough really is the only way out of the Fascism that has infected our country.
posted by They sucked his brains out! at 1:44 AM on September 27 [6 favorites]

You can write letters and postcards to voters, your kid could help with that! I participated in VoteFwd’s campaign in 2020 but they have campaigns running all the time.
posted by jabes at 5:20 AM on September 27 [2 favorites]

Turn off video news sources, if you haven’t already. Anything that plays to sound and imagery is going to pull the most compelling sounds and images, and those will always be the most awful, hyperbolic, triggering, and violent choices, because that’s what keeps people watching and gets people talking on social media. Limit your news consumption to reading from sources you trust, and even then try to limit yourself from going back to the well repeatedly if you can - you don’t have to check the news every hour (let alone more frequently), even if things move fast. The same with social media - if your friends are posting political things you don’t want to see, mute them or step away altogether. There’s plenty of better things to do with your brain space, and social media by its nature has become geared to bring out the worst in people.

Agree with others who say to get involved with people who are doing something that you believe in. Knowing that you’re doing something - instead of helplessly standing by as it is being done to you - gives you something productive to do with your heart and your brain, and hopefully will actually make a difference.
posted by Mchelly at 6:46 AM on September 27 [12 favorites]

Read some Wendell Berry and go lay down in the woods.
posted by furnace.heart at 7:47 AM on September 27 [5 favorites]

I got involved with my local Democratic party. I'm in a purple area in a blue state, so we are mostly focusing on the "smaller" races like school board and village trustee and circuit court judge. It's been so rewarding to meet candidates face to face and see how passionate they are about the position they're running for. Even if you don't want to get more involved than going to a meeting once a month, just spending an hour in a room with other people who are working to make the world better is so great. If you DO end up wanting to do more than attend meetings, knocking doors and attending other events can also be a great way to meet people in your neighborhood who also feel the way you do. Caveat: local politics is so stupid, even Dems can do the most stupid shit sometimes but you kind of have to roll your eyes and continue on.

I also quit facebook completely, which I realize isn't an option for most people. My blood pressure was noticeably improved after I deleted my account.
posted by little king trashmouth at 7:54 AM on September 27 [4 favorites]

Obvious answer I know, but really be cutthroat about how much and what type of news you consume. I grew up with parents who read multiple newspapers every day and had CNN on in the house 24/7, so I naturally fell into that same routine. I would have CNN on while I got ready in the morning, check news sources on my computer throughout the day, and watched several hours of CNN at night.

Around 2016 when Trump first came around, I started trying to cut back because I knew that hearing about every terrible thing that he did was going to drive me off the deep end, but I wasn't able to fully commit until 2020 when the early pandemic news was making me have panic attacks. I ended up canceling cable completely last year. I listen to CNN (via SiriusXM, audio only) while I'm getting ready in the morning and check the NY Times a few times a day, but that's it.

I am a far less well-informed person than I used to be, but I've found that a) I'm WAY happier and b) most of the news that I thought I "needed" didn't really impact my everyday life, anyway.
posted by anotheraccount at 10:04 AM on September 27 [4 favorites]

Find something positive to do that's not explicitly political. Politics, for the most part, doesn't bring out the best in humans. Spend some time reminding yourself of how altruistic they can actually be with some straightforward volunteer work.
posted by praemunire at 11:42 AM on September 27 [5 favorites]

Do some election work, post signs, whatever. Model citizenship for your child. I hate that election season is so active even though we won't vote for over a year.
posted by theora55 at 3:51 PM on September 27

Leeja Miller has a YT channel that explained a TON of stuff from Reaganomics to convergence of Manosphere and Far Right and Christian Nation, and partially how Trump was able to converge those forces together because he was basically a tactless misogynist.
posted by kschang at 4:44 AM on September 28

If you haven’t yet, find your people. I live in a red state but am part of a strong liberal community and it’s immensely helpful.

Find something local to focus on that feels worthwhile. State/city races, league of women voters, or even non-election stuff like volunteering for local charities involved in food insecurity, homelessness, community gardening .. it’s hard to completely give up on humanity when you’re working with other humans to make a real difference. And for me that local hands-on stuff - when I engage with it - feels more deeply resonant.

If it makes sense for you, have conversations with people who think differently but aren’t reactive. My dad is a Republican but we agree on a lot (people are underpaid, housing is too expensive) and that makes me feel better.

The last thing for me is my theory, oversimplified as follows: we aren’t a country with half evil people and half good people. Our political process has been hacked - I believe both intentionally and unintentionally. We have basically two wildly different information pipelines that are creating a situation where simple facts cannot be agreed upon. The takeaways from this are in part the importance of education, media literacy and critical thinking, but also our own susceptibility and fragility as humans. None of us are beyond being manipulated.
posted by bunderful at 8:28 AM on September 28 [1 favorite]

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