It was inevitable. The way things were going, I knew I’d reach my breaking point. I simply cannot watch the election coverage anymore.
I’m a Hillary supporter who embraced her cautiously, as if approaching a hug with a long-distant relative. Was she really my family? I couldn’t put my finger on anything tangible; I think I was just worn down by the free-floating dislike, and some archaic antipathy.
But now I’m With Her. More than that – I find her courageous, intelligent, skillful, experienced, tenacious, and she’s even got a sense of humor. The unceasing vendetta against her (I saw a car littered with “Trump That Bitch” stickers – driven by a woman) is characterized by sexism rearing its tired old head, and widespread distrust of politicians, among other things. Whatever the reason, it’s out of control.
I always knew I wasn’t With Him. I’m not with a clown chasing a kid into a park – scary, bizarre, fake smile painted on, a fluke of power, making squeaky noises, and ultimately so much more than a dangerous circus novelty.
He scared me in “Celebrity Apprentice” and he certainly scared me when announcing his presidential candidacy. Surely he’d be laughed off the stage.
But um, no, he wasn’t.
And we all know what has subsequently happened.
What I didn’t expect was the incessant attention paid to his every utterance by various forms of the media. I know they have a job to do, but “balanced reporting” has become a euphemism for playing to the lowest common denominator, rubbernecking traffic accidents, perpetuating rumors, and throwing fuel on a fire. That’s it – it’s a phenomenon ripe for clichés.
For a while I’d automatically pop on CNN (I don’t get MSNBC anymore, although from what I hear, it may not be such a loss) and was subjected to an endless parade of empty-headed Trump supporters, treated with grudging respect by anchors and reporters who are probably quite experienced and quick-thinking, but have lost all sense of priority and proportion.
It seems we can no longer tolerate a nano-second of silence.
Everyone is always talking. Making up questions. Speaking rapidly. The faster you can formulate a ridiculous hypothetical the better. “How much would the wall cost?”
Are you kidding me? Are you actually taking this seriously?
Now, I know some will be thinking: “Well, we can’t take our eyes off this; nothing is assured, we must be vigilant.” I get it. But unless I’m going off into some red states ready to knock on doors, or bankrupt myself to give money to the Democratic campaign, what good am I doing my poor, permeable psyche by consuming endless hours of pundits and possibilities?
I’ll continue to read the New York Times, and I’m sure I’ll catch some announcements on TV – I live in the world. I’m not “Zen” enough to not pay any attention, and I’m not sure that does any good either. I have friends on FB who have promised to alert me if “He” spontaneously combusts. I hope you don’t think me uncaring or irresponsible, but I don’t think I can bear to watch the debates.
When I took boxing lessons some years ago, “finding my range” was an important goal. I wrote about being “the right distance away” from your opponent in Blows to the Head/ How Boxing Changed My Mind (SUNY Press, 2010): “Initially it was mystifying. Did it have to do with the length of my arms? Where I stood?….My proper range was not so far away that I couldn’t make contact, but not so close up that I would get lost and smothered….Each person has to find his or her own range concerning the things that matter, whether it is family, work, beliefs, or relationships…Each individual can only find that range by trying. You have to test a few things out.”
I’ll add “politics and media” to that list.
Right now I’m going to take a step back.
Binnie Klein, LCSW