I live in a perpetual state of exhaustion, and I think it has something to do with the U.S. political system. The government is a wreck right now. The two parties can’t stand each other, and most people can’t stand the two parties. Congress can barely get a thing done amidst all its internal fighting. Accusations like “fake news” and “alternative facts” fly from both sides. We’ve broken down with lack of trust and excessive hatred.
I’m hit with a barrage of politics from the moment I wake up until I finally go to sleep at night. I’m studying a double major in political science and journalism, so in addition to the political bombardment we all face, I get a double dose in the classroom. Most of my classes invite political discussion for the first section of class, then periodically reference it throughout the duration of the day. Papers, projects, readings and assignments all tie back into politics somehow.
I picked politics as a major because I truly do think it’s important to stay educated and knowledgeable about what’s going on in the world. I’m very passionate about what happens to our country and the people who live in it, but it’s that very passion that can be so tiring. I see a lot of injustice in the world and trying to keep up with it all is a huge task, not to mention trying to change any of it.
In addition to my classwork, my free time is politically occupied as well. I spend a good amount of time reading up on the news and current events, trying to piece together what’s really going on. Google sends me updates on breaking news. I patrol Twitter diligently to look at commentary on different political issues. I talk about politics with friends over lunch, text my mom or make conversation with strangers at parties. When people find out I’m studying politics, it’s taken as an invitation to start a political discussion. At a dentist appointment once, the assistant proceeded to launch a full-blown rant as she shoved her fingers around my mouth, leaving me defenseless to even argue back.
I won’t lie, I’m in a very privileged position. As an upper middle class, cis-gender, straight-passing, white woman I very well could stick my head in the sand and likely would not be personally affected by the current presidency or political goings-on. That possibility is alarmingly tempting because I am so exhausted from waking up every morning to yet another political disaster.
Practically, I could very well stop reading the newspaper or engaging in political talks and not be any worse off. It might do me some good, in fact. My stress would go down. I wouldn’t be so anxious about the state of our country.
On the other hand, choosing political ignorance is morally repugnant. The political environment directly affects countless people around me. My friends and loved ones face discrimination, violence, medical issues and more in their daily lives. Strangers with whom I do not share a personal connection face these hardships as well, and it’s not fair or right to turn my head away. Should I choose to keep away from politics, I will be a part of a system which endangers the lives of people around me. Ignorance is not innocent. It is complicit in upholding injustice. It’s not an option for me to become politically inactive.
I’m left with this question; how can we weather the current political situation in a responsible manner without total and complete exhaustion?