American Politics is Bringing Us Down
To many voters, politics is little more than bad people forcing negative energy on everyone. The rational response is to try another form of citizenship.
It’s not even February and already Americans are sick and tired of the 2024 election. Majorities of voters tell pollsters they don’t want either Joe Biden or Donald Trump running for president again, yet that’s exactly what the two parties are serving up.
Both party heads receive unfavorable ratings from majorities of Americans, and only four in ten voters believe either man has the proper temperament to be president.
Hard partisans, of course, think their guy hung the moon. But to the bulk of voters not particularly attached to either party—now approaching half the country—the choices in this year’s election range from uninspiring to depressing.
As interesting qualitative research by Pew shows, voters aren’t snookered by what is going on with partisan politics these days and how it adversely affects their own psyche and the nation’s standing:
Unfortunately, this disaffected bloc of Americans (and the poor souls living in swing states) will have to endure months on end of extreme partisan rhetoric, negative advertising, cable news vitriol, and people losing their minds on X, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok about other people’s political views and choices—all fueled by billions of dollars in unaccountable funds from wealthy sources and activist groups that are perfectly content to see the country break in two for ideological or financial gain.
Rather than solving America’s problems—or even offering a positive framework for thinking about these problems—politics as practiced today by the two parties and their activist backers is the root cause of our nation’s decline.
The only rational form of self-protection from this madness is to refuse to engage in America’s misshapen partisan politics and to instead pursue other forms of citizenship.
Focus on something other than politics. Talk with friends and colleagues about anything other than partisan divides and culture war clickbait. Turn off and disable the media and tech sources spreading partisan negativity. Turn the mind towards something positive and constructive in life rather than imbibing party propaganda designed to make people anxious, confused, angry, or vengeful.
Giving up on politics doesn’t mean giving up on citizenship, however.
If Americans really want to reinvigorate democracy, it will take a lot more than voting for one party or another, although this remains a basic civic duty and critical obligation.
Saving democracy will require Americans to reimagine their roles as citizens in ways that circumvent our dysfunctional system.
Getting around politics requires citizens to recognize that solutions to our most pressing economic and social challenges need to be forged outside of partisan politics—through the day-to-day actions of businesses and workers, scientists and engineers, trade organizations, unions, families, schools, neighborhood groups, churches and synagogues, and other small bands of patriotic citizens committed to working together to solve common problems.
Rather than channeling limited mental energy into partisan combat—an enterprise full of bad people draining Americans of life and vitality—focus on positive ideas to revive the country and support organizations dedicated to an affirmative vision for the nation’s future.
Democracy isn’t just elections, legislation, and executive actions. It’s also self-government, reasoned debate, and civic-minded actions that advance practical solutions to problems and help all Americans build prosperous and enjoyable lives.
Instead of absorbing nonstop partisan negativity, disaffected Americans will serve themselves and their country best by finding something meaningful to pursue this election season in conjunction with other like-minded citizens.