Wissot: Don’t let politics play such an overwhelmingly negative role in your life (column)
Tired. Exhausted. Bushed. Fatigued. Drained. Spent. Depleted. Fried. Flattened.
Frazzled. Beat. Battered. Bruised. Dazed. Wasted. Decimated.
I’m all President Donald Trumped-out. I can’t spend another day yelling epithets at a television screen like some half-crazed madman.
At my worst moments, when I observed his inappropriate and undignified behavior, the only word that came to mind was “monster.” When I reached the tipping point of insanity, I thought to myself, not only is this man unfit for public office, he’s unfit to be seen in public.
But what has that gotten me? Zilch. Nada. Nothing. I’ve accomplished nothing by allowing him to become such an obsession in my life.
My words, thoughts, feelings don’t change the fact that he is president of the United States, that his followers remain faithful to him, that he will continue to run the country as he sees fit, that I can scream to the high heavens in hysterical indignation — but who cares?
Nobody. Nobody does. Nobody should. I am engaging in self-fulfilling self-righteousness.
We don’t alter one another’s differing political opinions and outlooks through argument and discussion, even when those conversations are calm, rational and reasonable. I don’t cause any of you to change your political viewpoints when you read one of my columns.
I don’t expect to, and I don’t care to. I write for my own pleasure. That others may read me is a bonus. I don’t change my politics when I read conservative columnists such as George Will, Peggy Noonan, Jonah Goldberg, for whom I have great respect and enjoy reading. They know better than to think otherwise.
We don’t formulate our political positions in adulthood. We are inducted into a culture at an early age that teaches us what to value, who to value and why it is worth valuing. I didn’t become a liberal because a talking head on CNN or a lefty professor in college brainwashed me into adopting it.
I was brainwashed much earlier by my liberal parents, liberal family members and the liberal New York City environment that shaped my values. I didn’t think about becoming a liberal. I became a liberal before I began thinking. It was baked into my identity without my permission. My environment seduced me. I was a captive of my culture. It chose me. I didn’t choose it.
As Jonathan Swift explained: “You cannot reason a man out of what he never reasoned himself into.” (“A Letter to a Young Gentleman, Lately Entered Into Holy Orders By a Person of Quality,” Jonathan Swift, 1721)
People do switch their political loyalties but not because they read a book, take a course or attend a lecture. It happens because of an impactful emotional experience. A person enters your life and teaches you to see the world from a different vantage point. People also change due to a spiritual awakening or as a result of dealing with a traumatic event such as a death, a disease or an injury. The change agent is rooted in our hearts and not our heads.
I am planning to create my own 12-step program for ridding myself of my Trump addiction. I’m not sure yet what those steps look like yet. I promise to share them with you when I figure it all out.
But for the time being, please join me in making a commitment to not let politics play such an overwhelmingly negative role in your life. Stop watching CNN, MSNBC or Fox News all the time. And for heaven’s sake, let’s not let our political divisions get in the way of our loving family relationships. They should mean much more to us then the wayward passions of an election or our disagreements regarding a particular candidate.
And by all means, don’t forget to vote in the midterm elections on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Voting is the remedy for the exhaustion caused by the Trump divide in this country.
It is the only constructive outlet for the emotionally charged landscape that make this president a lightening rod for our greatest fears and deepest desires.
Jay Wissot is a resident of Denver and Vail. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.