Are You Sick Of The 2016 Presidential Election? Wish It Would Be Over?
What’s the most popular meme of the 2016 presidential election? It isn’t “Nasty Woman”. It isn’t “Whip Out That Mexican Thing”.
The idea that people express most often when talking about this year’s presidential contest, whether they’re Republicans, Democrats, independents, or members of minor political parties, is that they can’t wait until the campaign season is finally finish. “I can’t take it any more,” they complain. “I’m exhausted!” “I’m sick and tired of hearing about the election!” “When will it all be over?”
It’s not just rank and file voters who share the 2016-Election-Driving-Me-Crazy meme. This afternoon, I listened as the reporters on the NPR Politics Podcast moaned about how happy they’ll be when the election is over, issuing a particular complaint about the “relentless drumbeat of social media” that keeps on exposing people to campaign news even when they don’t want it.
This set of reporters has been whining for weeks now about how eagerly they await the end of the presidential election, but it was only today, when they complained about how social media just keeps pushing news about presidential politics at people, that the irony of it all cracked open for me.
In a moment of clarity, I realized that these people who were kvetching about how awful it is that “media” keep on shoving presidential campaign information at people who have chosen to make it their profession to create stories about political campaigns, broadcasting the stories to as many people as they can manage. They could be reporting on any number of subjects, but they wanted to create political news.
If they were really tired of being exposed to information about the presidential campaigns, these reporters would quit their jobs. If they truly were irritated by political media, they wouldn’t be creating it.
I finally realized that these NPR political reporters weren’t being sincere in their desperate groaning about how long the presidential campaign season has gone on. They couldn’t have been expressing an authentic emotion of exasperation with presidential politics, because they had been gleefully sharing their thoughts on the subject week after week.
What these reporters were doing was repeating an item of small talk to start conversation that’s grown popular over the last year. It goes something like this: Gosh darn it, I can you believe those presidential candidates? I sure wish that The Media would stop shoving all these news stories about them at us!
This expression of irritation is usually followed by a reference to an article the person just read about the election, or a funny video about one of the candidates, or a social media meme that the person found poignant.
People are doing the same thing that the NPR political reporters are doing: They’re griping about how much presidential campaign news they have to deal with, right before they happily dive right back into it.
The truth is that none of us are victims of a flood of media about the 2016 presidential candidates. We can step away from it at any time that we like. All you have to do is step away from the electronic screens, and the news of the election is gone. It’s not everywhere you go. It’s only where there’s a TV on, or a computer screen that someone has tuned in to campaign news.
Really, how many presidential candidates have you personally run into while you were going about your everyday business? Even if you live in Iowa or New Hampshire, chances are that you haven’t just bumped into Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.
If you really think that you’re sick of the 2016 presidential election, then what are you doing reading this article? The fact is that you’re choosing to get online, or to turn on the TV, where you know there will be presidential campaign news, and only then complaining that you can’t get away from the campaign news.
I’m asking that people please stop saying that they’re suffering from overexposure to political information, because not only are such complaints plainly dishonest, they’re also antidemocratic.
If you really think that it’s dreadful to have a process by which citizens can discuss at length their visions for the country, and then vote for the candidate that is the closest match to that vision, I urge you to consider the alternative: A dictatorship in which no one is allowed to argue about who the best leader would be, because political dissent is a crime and voting doesn’t exist.
Buck up, and stop complaining about democracy. If you can’t handle the idea that many people don’t agree with you, you can simply turn off the television set and stop ruining your eyes by staring at your smartphone’s Facebook and Twitter feeds.
If you’re ready to be a grown up, responsible citizen, and deal with the culture of a country where a diversity of opinions is protected by the law of the land, then be honest about it. Be proud of our democratic system. Lively political discussions are a sign that people care about what’s going on. Don’t whine about them. Celebrate them! Stay connected, and enjoy the fray, in which almost nobody actually gets hurt, and we all have a remarkable opportunity to learn about each other.
Democracy is a good thing, not a burden.