Monday, November 2, 2020

Pre-Election Madness

It’s one of those moments when you are tempted to shout: Get a life! 

The moment in question is the upcoming election. Apparently, New York therapy patients-- having benefited from their years of therapy-- are becoming completely unhinged over an election. Somehow or other they have gotten the impression that their lives, their futures, the future of the planet itself… are all riding on the outcome of tomorrow’s election. 

Will America re-elect the Antichrist or will it elect a man who is consummately indecent and demented? It’s a tough choice. 

But, does your future ride on it? Will the Republic survive the one or the other? 

By the laws of contrary opinion, if we imagine that everything is riding on the outcome-- including the planet itself-- they obviously, it is not. There is more to life than politics. Apocalyptic visions, narratives that have popped straight out of the Book of Revelation are not a higher truth. 

One may certainly gain a certain inward glee watching dyed-in-the-wool atheists living out Biblical prophecies. If you need a mood boost, try that one on for size.

But, how did we get to this point? Aside from the current ambient madness, stoked for years by the media, the problem arises because we have all-- at least all New Yorkers have decided, to coin a phrase, that: “the personal is political.”

You have heard the decades-old feminist adage. It encouraged women to make their kitchens into war zones, to understand that if they were doing the housework it was not merely a domestic arrangement, but was a chapter in a grand battle against the forces of patriarchal oppression. It told women to rise up and rebel, to overthrow their patriarchal masters and to liberate themselves from domestic servitude. They could become part of the vanguard of the revolution to overthrow the patriarchal capitalist order-- and make the country more like Venezuela.

If you have a special warp of mind, you can ask yourself how that one worked out… for women. It isn’t an accident that America now leads the world in single parent households, and probably also divorce.

It’s a strange and discomforting irony but most of the time when women follow feminist advice they get hurt. 

And then we might ask ourselves whether, if the personal is political, does that also mean that the political is personal? Does it mean that we should personalize politics, making it less business-like and more psychodramatic? Hmm. An interesting thought, I am sure you will agree. 

In more banal terms, do you really want people to conduct their relationships with colleagues and coworkers and managers the way they conduct their relations in their private lives. I trust we will all agree that everyone should keep their private parts out of the workplace. But, if we need to render public life, even political life, less personal, perhaps we ought to render private life less political. 

If you conduct your private life as though you are living out a Marxist revolutionary narrative, you are almost certainly going to make a mess of it. As for my offhand reference to Marxist narratives, I will simply point out that much of modern feminist thinking traces its roots to the work of one Friedrich Engels, whose book, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, laid the groundwork.

The New York Post offers some solace for the city’s beleaguered therapists. Their patients are losing it; they are flipping out; they cannot control their emotions. It’s a nightmare.

The Post reports that therapists are awaiting what it calls “an avalanche of petrified patriots.” OK, it’s not the best metaphor we have ever heard, but it makes the point:

New York City therapists are bracing for an avalanche of petrified patriots no matter the outcome of Tuesday’s presidential election.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in terms of the level of fear, anxiety and anger that this is provoking in people on both sides,” Manhattan psychologist Dr. Chloe Carmichael told The Post. “People are feeling like this is a life and death situation.”

As it happens, the authorities who run America’s blue cities are preparing for an insurrection. They are boarding up storefronts and telling the police not to interfere. Apparently, a brigade of sore losers is about to return to their recent habit of destroying their cities, trashing stores, burning buildings, assaulting the police.

The therapists retain their strict neutrality, but noting, not unreasonably, that people do not feel safe.

Upper West Side psychologist Judith Schweiger Levy said the election “is all people have been talking about” in her practice and she “wouldn’t be surprised if there are many many people calling crisis hotlines or texting their therapists or patients” come election night.

“People are not feeling safe. That’s the challenge we are in. They need to feel safe. This is like exponential 9/11,” she said.

It reminds us, and perhaps just us, of the old movie, Marathon Man, where Nazi war criminal played by Laurence Olivier keeps asking the Dustin Hoffman character: Is it safe?

Americans are stressed out. A large percentage of them are super stressed. As one therapist notes, the uncertainty makes it all worse. Though, we recall the uncertainty over the 2000 election results and remark that people were not nearly as stressed then.

A recent poll found that 65 percent of respondents harbor moderate to high stress over the presidential election.

Carmichael said “the element of uncertainty is making everything worse. There’s a chance that we won’t know on election night what the results are. It’s hard to come to a place of acceptance if we literally don’t even know what we are accepting.”

But, Carmichael’s patients were completely gobsmacked by Hillary Clinton’s loss. Did they turn into puddles of emotional incontinence because the nation’s leading enabler of sexual harassment lost out to an amateur? Did they really not get the joke when Barack Obama said that Hillary was the most qualified candidate ever? Did they take to their beds-- like mid-Victorian ladies-- because they were the only ones who had not seen that Hillary was not even close to being likable enough? 

After Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016, Carmichael had “a significant amount of clients who had to do their sessions by video that day. They couldn’t get out of bed. They didn’t want to leave their home. The Trump voters bounced into the office bright eyed and bushy tailed with elation.”

Things today are clearly worse. Now that the personal has become politicized people are no longer able to discuss politics with friends and family. In our post-democratic era there are no longer disputes and disagreements about policy or even about candidates. If you take the wrong side of an issue, if you utter the least sympathetic word about a certain candidate, you will be voted off the island. You will lose friends. Your children will no longer speak to you. You might even lose your job. 

Carmichael predicts a spike in calls from people who “do not feel like they can open up to their friends or family or spouse.” And in a pandemic, “It’s not like people can hop on a plane and get out of town.”

What do the therapists recommend?

Schweiger Levy predicts “it’s going to take a long time to calm things down.”

Her advice? “Allow yourself to have pleasure. Try something that makes you feel good or that you enjoy. It calms the brain down.”

I would add that a good workout or even some yoga would help in the very short term. And yet, as long as we think that our lives depend on the results of an election, we are headed in the wrong direction. I am not saying that the election is inconsequential, but that America’s problems are too extensive to be solved by casting a vote. Those who do are setting themselves for disappointment-- again.

For politicians, politics is everything. For talk show hosts and television talking heads, the same is true. Clearly, it’s good for ratings. And yet, if we want to live in a democratic republic, we will need to relearn the old habit of exchanging ideas and opinions with courtesy, kindness and civility. If we cannot do that, we are done. Not matter who wins.


whitney said...

Asia is open and all the back to normal so is South America so is Africa. The craziness in the world is really just the western world. This is a white person problem, it's not a global problem. And the more diverse your city is the less likely to have a lockdown because everyone knows white people follow laws but you can't make the "diverse" do the same. That's why Australia and New Zealand are locked-down and England, it's still 90% White. It looks to me like the great irony here is diversity is actually going to save white people.

whitney said...

Oh yeah I meant to include that it's obvious that white people have gone insane in mass

Sam L. said...

Those would be white Democrats, whitney. Trump voters are calm, but ready. Life goes on.

Sam L. said...

I see some blogs are saying that some cities' businesses are boarding up, in expectation of rioting and looting. All with Democrat mayors...

Sam L. said...

Let us not forget the POST_election come.