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Politics & Policy

We’re Stressed Because We Feel Obligated to Act in Contradiction to Our Values

From the last Morning Jolt of the week:

We’re Stressed Because We Feel Obligated to Act in Contradiction to Our Values

Feeling stressed?

More than half of you—on both sides of the aisle—say the 2016 election is a major source of stress, according to a new survey from the American Psychological Association. “Historically, work, money, and the economy are the top three,” said clinical psychologist Lynn Bufka, part of the APA’s Stress in America team, which has been conducting surveys of what freaks us out the most for 10 years. “Now it’s right up there.”

In addition to the overall pervasiveness of news about the presidential election—non-stop coverage for more than a year now—Bufka cites several potential reasons Americans are more worried this year. To start, there’s the tenor of the campaigns, which are arguably more negative and accusatory than any other in modern history. “In general,” she said, “humans like harmony.” Not a lot of that going around this year.

People may also be stressed by these candidates in particular—who they are and what they stand for. And of course, Americans are worried about the outcome.

The survey was conducted online by Harris Poll in August among 3,511 adults aged 18 and up living in the U.S. Data were weighted to accurately reflect the population. While social media usage correlates with higher stress levels, the American you’re least likely to find posting on Facebook—those age 71 and up—are also the ones reporting the most anxiety.

Stop it, candidates! You’re scaring Grandma and Grandpa!

This year requires partisans to defend the indefensible, day after day.

This is a year when the Democrats – a little less than half of whom didn’t really want Hillary Clinton, who wanted Bernie Sanders — have to swallow their pride, put aside their concerns and worries, and pretend she is noble and trustworthy. (Most of us on the Right think Sanders is nuts, but he’s not really malevolent or vindictive, and there’s something fundamentally honest about him. Unlike most other Democrats who want the government to manage every nook and cranny in our lives, he’s honest enough to call himself a socialist.)

So the Democrats have to pretend not to hear all the news reports about WikiLeaks and be shocked and outraged about the hacking of those e-mails, and not bothered by what’s in them – the naked contempt for those outside the Clinton clique, the glaring collusion with their allies in the media, the sneering at Catholics and Evangelicals, the smug assumption that their foes’ primary spiritual concern is what the neighbors think (a bit of projection, perhaps?). They have to tell themselves there’s nothing really wrong with the cozy relationship between the Clinton Foundation, its wealthy donors, and the State Department, that this is the way government is supposed to work.

Like the moment when that re-gifted Christmas fruitcake is unwrapped, the Democrats have to pretend like this is just what they wanted all along, for the sake of appearances.

And as for us on the Right? Urgh. Are we really supposed to rush to the defense of a man who tells a 14-year-old choir girl, “In a couple of years, I’ll be dating you”? Apparently this line of his is habitual:

In an “Entertainment Tonight” Christmas feature in 1992, Trump looked at a group of young girls and said he would be dating one of them in ten years. At the time, Trump would have been 46 years old.

After lambasting Democrats, liberals and feminists for the free pass they gave Bill Clinton over accusations of sexual misconduct, abuse of power, and overall creepy lecherousness in the 1990s, do we really want to emulate that approach when the Republican nominee does the same? Were we appalled by their hypocrisy back then or just envious?

Do we really want to act like it’s a ridiculous imposition to expect a presidential candidate to show his tax returns? Are we supposed to just not notice that the presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate laid out completely different approaches to Russia? We’re supposed to not see any unnerving historical parallels and chilling implications when the GOP candidate claims “international banks plot the destruction of U.S. sovereignty in order to enrich these global financial powers”?

Of course everybody’s stressed. One of two bad options – a man and a woman who do not reflect the values and sense of ethics of most decent Americans — is all but certain to be president, and lots of people feel the need to pretend that they want these bad options, lest the worse one win. What’s more, people are realizing that they’re going to have to validate one of these people by giving her or him their vote.

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