Election Depression

Posted on October 7, 2008

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If the APA doesn’t already have “election depression” listed as a psychological disorder, then 2008 may finally be the year for it to hit the books. I seriously have become increasingly more depressed and anxious over the course of the last 3-4 weeks, with symptoms including mood swings, bouts of crying, fits of anger, an inability to cope with basic difficulties, and a general sense of hopelessness. The cause: the presidential election.

So how does the election cause depression exactly? When I’m not contemplating homicide or suicide, this is what I conclude:

Sarah Palin. I get it; she was picked for the VP slot to energize the conservative base and polarize the electorate. It’s one of the few times “Mission Accomplished” would be appropriate from the Republicans. This woman makes me want to spoon out my ovaries and cut off my breasts. She is an embarrassment to women in leadership roles and she is an idiot. Which I guess makes her a great representative for social conservatives. The very thought that this twat could become president “without blinking” is horrifying on a visceral level. While morons everywhere are championing her, I know I am not the only one who is plagued by nightmares of what she is (in)capable of doing.

24-hour News Cycles. Seriously, this might be the worst thing that happened to us as a culture. Stephen Colbert said it best: “There’s the same amount [of news] from when it was just Cronkite. And the easiest way to fill it is to have someone’s opinion on it. Then you have an opposite opinion, and then you have a mishmash of fact and opinion, and you leave it the least informed you can possibly be.” The news offers very little in terms of substance and fact, and is instead bloated with bombastic sensationalism. And yet, I find myself addicted to it; like a crack-addict I check the headlines every fifteen minutes to read about the new smear tactic Sarah Palin is employing. My mom called me from work the other day to ask me what she was missing on the news, as if getting through an 8-hour shift of taking care of people was impossible without that fix.

Anti-intellectualism. We are a culture that worships mediocrity and stupidity. Our best litmus test for who we want to lead us is who we’d rather have a beer with. Not the leader who would be the most rational, pragmatic, and thoughtful leader, no. But the leader who talks to “me,” Joe-six-pack, or “me,” the hockey mom. The economic crisis and the election have illuminated the inadequacies of our leaders and the idiocy of the electorate. At a time when it feels like the world is falling apart, people are more interested in lipstick lines and who’s friends with who than what the candidates are proposing to do. Further, if you examine the causes of our current problems, question the current administration, or in any way suggest that there is room for improvement, then you are unpatriotic, or even possibly a terrorist. That sort of authoritarian thinking is more consistent with dictatorships and communist regimes. Democracies are designed so that the people can question government; it is unpatriotic to be an ignorant, complacent sheep.

And ultimately it is this failure of citizens to be informed, intelligent, curious, and demanding that is depressing; without freethinking and rationalism there is no hope for us, present or future. Even if Obama wins (praise be to Jesus!), about 49% of the population will still be moronic. And I’ll still be anxious about what our future holds.

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