[Read Cary Tennis' invitation to write about the ways politics is affecting you.]
I am losing sleep. My husband feels neglected, and my clients would too if they knew how much energy I'm putting into other things. The house hasn't been cleaned in weeks. I'm falling behind in the classes I'm taking. I have purposely avoided tallying the amount of money I've spent on behalf of the Democratic Party in the last few months -- not only in donations, but in hotel rooms near campaign offices, in gas and road munchies and restaurant dinners for volunteer trips out of town, in bumper stickers and T-shirts, in work I've turned down so I could spend the time fighting the good fight instead.
I keep telling myself it will be better when the election is over. I don't allow myself to think of how I'll feel if Bush wins.
I am so gripped by fear of what a second Bush term would do to our country that I've all but abandoned my usual responsibilities to spend my weekends in a battleground state two hours from home, volunteering for the Kerry campaign. And I'm exhausted. I don't have time for this sort of road-warrior activism, not with a busy freelance programming career and a half-time college course load. I haven't had a lazy, rejuvenating weekend since September, and every time I begin to think that maybe I've earned one, this feeling of panic and urgency comes over me and I can't help thinking something like: I can rest anytime; there are only eight days left to get George W. Bush fired. In the name of peace, and in the name of science, and in the name of secular rationality, and in the name of little people over big business, and in the name of civil rights for all Americans, and in the name of penance for failing to vote four years ago when I was a resident of the state of Florida, I am wearing myself down.
I feel myself close to some kind of burnout. My legs and back still ache from this past weekend of walking streets and knocking on doors. But I look at today's polls and they scare me so much that even as I sit here and wish for a nap that won't happen, I'm thinking that if I work just a couple more late nights, then just maybe I could get away to my adopted swing state for two days in the middle of the week.
Among work-at-home professionals like myself, there's always a lot of talk about work-life balance and the need to create firm boundaries between personal time and work time. And it's tough, it really is, but I'm finding that it's nothing at all compared to the need to create firm boundaries between the personal and the political. Nothing else has the sense of urgency for me that this election has, and I'm breaking my own back as if I alone could win 21 electoral votes for the Democrats ... if only I worked just a little harder.
-- Michelle Kinsey Bruns
Let's say things go my way and Kerry is elected. What am I going to do without five anti-W-themed bumper stickers on my car? Without 25 daily messages from the ACLU, MoveOn, Planned Parenthood, NARAL, Meetup, People for the American Way? I've spent nearly four years of my early adult life being appalled, terrified, dismayed and annoyed. I'm afraid I won't know how to function again as an American with a Democrat in the White House. What will I do with all of my time?
-- Erin Carter
Yes, the election is impacting me emotionally, and I don't know what to do about it. I, too, have thought about leaving the country (a highly unlikely prospect due to personal poverty) and even about the possibility of having to take up arms. While it's hard to identify the one thing that is having the greatest adverse effect on me recently, I think the aspect of the presidential race that worries me the most is its intense partisan viciousness. I wonder if the level of tension surrounding this race -- tension that includes issues like voter suppression, ideological lies on the part of Republicans, the bandying about of words like "traitor" to describe those who disagree politically, and the emergence of militaristic and religious rhetoric as means of persuasion -- is indicative of the way elections in our country are going to be from now on. Frankly, it's simultaneously wearing me out and making me more anxious. I would hope that we could someday soon have civil discourse back in our country, but based on the evidence I've seen, coming primarily from the right but also somewhat from the left, that feels extremely unlikely.
I am also concerned about my ability to continue to have a relationship with anyone who believed that Bush represented the better way of engaging with the world, and would vote to elect Bush to a second term. This would mean, sadly, never again speaking to members of my immediate family. While I don't relish the prospect of never going home again for Christmas, it's started to seem like a distinct possibility. That's how far voting for Bush is out of my ability to even imagine it. Conventional wisdom is that the U.S. is deeply polarized, and I'm inclined to agree, given how even the little common ground I might have been able to find between myself and a conservative has disappeared over the last four years.
I am totally on tenterhooks about the upcoming election and I hate the idea of watching our slow slide into four more years of Bush. Plus, I think there is very little one man can do. I have voted already (it's Oregon) and there's not much left but the shouting for me. Anyway, it is good to know that there are others who feel the same way.
-- Ed Leber
Here's what is driving me crazy -- people who don't vote, more specifically my roommate and very good friend. I don't understand how a college-educated 25-year-old woman doesn't have a single political opinion. She's never even registered to vote! She has absolutely no desire to vote at all, not for school board members, not for state senators, and especially not for president.
We have discussed this, and she told me that she just doesn't feel "ready" to vote, like voting for the first time is the same as deciding whether or not to have sex for the first time. How can a person not have an opinion? She has no opinion on abortion, the war, gun control, taxes, Social Security, crime, nothing. I just don't understand that at all. I would rather she disagreed with all of my political views, than for her to just have nothing to say.
It's just so passive and lazy. It's so stereotypical -- the lazy, young, "doesn't care about the world or have anything to say" nonvoter. And she almost seems proud of it, as if her life is so busy that she doesn't have time to sit down and figure out who to vote for. There are much more important things on her mind. Like I'm the silly one for caring who will be the next president.
We were joking about P. Diddy's Vote or Die movement, and she said that she'll opt to die. I almost hope P. Diddy shows up at our house on Nov. 2 and roughs her up a bit. Not that it would change her or anything, but I sure would get a perverse pleasure out of it!
-- Lauren Palm
I decided a few months ago that if Bush wins (i.e., steals) the election again this year, I'm moving to Israel. Yes, that's right -- I'd rather live in a country where it's dangerous to ride the bus and almost impossible to find a good job than in a country with George W. Bush as its president. I'm scared that I'll wake up on Nov. 3, turn on the TV, and see that this nation has decided to drive itself over a cliff. I'm scared that Kerry will win the popular vote, but Karl Rove and Co. will disenfranchise all the right people in all the right places, and get the Supreme Court to declare Bush the victor. I'm worried that all the people around the world who now say "we don't hate Americans, we just hate your president" will take the "don't" out of the first part of that sentence. I'm worried that another four years of Bush's hands-off approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will result in more devastation for both sides.
If all of that happens, I'll be picking up the phone to book a ticket to Tel Aviv.
-- Shira Zamir
There's been a lot of talk lately up here (in Toronto), and in the U.S., about rising anti-Americanism among us Canadians. I'd probably be speaking for a lot of us who'd slag the U.S. in saying it's not the American people we Canucks find outrageous, it's your damn government. And I'd be willing to bet large that much of the world subscribes to that clarification.
Americans would be wise to remember that for a long time your country set an example of governance and nation-building admired by the people of the world -- especially those who freed themselves from colonial or dictatorial rule and dreamed of a democratic and economic system that resembled yours (which sadly hasn't happened for very many).
So, relax, Americans -- and boot the Bush regime out of Washington forever, so the world can once again respect, in its entirety, that great creation known as the United States of America.
-- Paul Fenn
Less than two weeks after the upcoming election, I'll turn 50. I genuinely believe that there has been no more important election in my lifetime.
When considering the possibilities for the future I find myself careening from a state of high anxiety to one of quiet despair.
My view is that four more years of the current administration will so damage the republic that it will take a century to heal the wounds (if they can be healed). Among many others, two critical issues occupy my thoughts: the ever-deepening and unconscionable war in Iraq (and the muddled, ill-informed policies that perpetuate it); and the potential, if the Congress remains in Republican control, for extreme right-wing judicial appointments (which will pave the way for incursions and intrusions upon the civil liberties we hold most dear).
The rhetoric of the current administration is one of fear, misdirection and oversimplification. It is a rhetoric that has been successfully employed by other governments throughout history.
I am afraid for my country.
-- Kathleen Keefe
So I'm not the only one who is consumed with this election! I have always been a political junkie, but this year I really am freaking out. I have harassed friends about their political views, I can barely speak to my Republican in-laws and I've taken to printing Krugman articles and putting them in my neighbors' mailboxes (at least those who support BC 04.)
I went out to dinner with my in-laws last Friday and after ranting and raving about Bush, my father-in-law asked my husband if I can have a conversation without bringing up politics. The answer: no. I swear, you bring up any subject and I can turn it into a reason why you shouldn't vote for Bush.
Whenever I go out, I eyeball people and try to guess whether they are Dems or Repubs or Independents. Unfortunately, I live in a red county outside of a blue city in the Midwest, so I am bombarded with BC stickers and signs. I have taken to yelling "You're gonna lose" whenever I see one, just to keep my blood pressure in check.
Finally, and this is probably the worst part and I have only admitted this to my husband, I am convinced that if the Red Sox win, Kerry will win, so I am rooting for the Sox. The problem with this is I live in the St. Louis area! When I told my husband this he was actually shocked. I've never been a huge baseball fan, but I think I've reached the bottom of the barrel: I am going against my hometown team and rooting for the enemy!
-- A Cards fan who is probably going to hell