Tuesday was apparently a day of some consequence here in these United States. The day comes and goes every few years, and I usually go into with any level of excitement, dread, or nausea. I believe Mark Twain once said something along the lines of, “In Hell, every year is election year.”
But here we are. Having seen enough ups and downs at this point, one would think I would have a more zen approach to the whole thing, but I will admit that this Election Day wound up stressing me out more than most.
I find it very hard to write about this and articulate about it because I have actively tried to avoid getting into politics in this blog. That is not to imply in any way that I don’t have strong beliefs, because I absolutely do. I have certainly been tempted to say more on the topic, but I feel like that would be a whole different blog.
But I feel like we’ve been building to this day for years, and I know everyone was and is feeling stress around it, no matter which direction you’re coming from.
I came into the day feeling pretty good about the trajectory. I had a feeling maybe we’d know a result in a decent amount of time, and I was generally pretty even keel all day. I knew it could take a little while, though, so I chose my coffee mug as a reminder to be patient.
After work, as the returns started to come in, I got bombarded by requests from the kids to go to the park. So I thought…yes.
And to the park we went. Yes, I checked my phone a few times, but for the most part, I was in the moment, goofing around with the kids.
And ultimately playing some hide and seek.
After that, it was back to the house, where we ordered pizza and Erin and I settled into watch the results. I felt my positivity fade as the night went on, and started to feel distinct 2016 PTSD. I don’t think I am alone in that.
Eventually, I had to walk away and went to work putting Henry to bed. It was while doing that that I wrote last night’s post, focused on the walk we all took as a family the day before.
If you are a regular reader, I’ll tell you that was one the hardest posts I’ve written in a while. Not in the class of the time I wrote a post pretending I had a normal day on the day we got Henry’s autism diagnosis, but in that neighborhood. I was feeling exhausted, deflated, and I didn’t know what to say. So I thought about that walk, and taking one step at a time, so I wrote one word at a time.
Inelegant as that post wound up being, I actually spent a lot of the rest of the night thinking about it. My basic thought and fundamental point was that I’m having a reflective moment of struggle, trying to balance being engaged in policy, which is clearly important for the health of our nation, as well for my family’s future, while also remaining sane.
There is a lot at stake in this election, and I am one who does believe that in many ways the character of our country is on the ballot right now. As much as I can be a crank and a pessimist, I am also an idealist who has long believed in the best of what America can be. So emotions admittedly get wound into my point of view.
And I have policy concerns. I am the father of a son with a disability, which is a pre-existing condition. And I am the father of a strong, intelligent and amazing daughter, who I want to have an even playing field to succeed. I have real issues with the way the COVID-19 crisis has been handled. There are countless reasons I made the vote I made, and because I care so much, I want to see that passion acknowledged and justified.
But I am also someone who understands on a deep level that there are those who disagree, and I have always tried very hard to hear and understand those points of view. So I recognize that no matter who you are, it has been stressful. I think all of us came into the evening hoping for some kind of clarity.
And of course, clarity was not forthcoming. Not shocking, given we knew this was going to be a weird election because of the pandemic and other issues, but I found myself late in the evening feeling confused, lost and disheveled.
In the end, what I’m coming to is that I think I need to find a way to better insulate myself from the emotional part of this, while still of course being engaged enough to vote and express my voice. The thought I had late in the evening is that, quite frankly, the defining thing about Tuesday should be the fact that I sat on a dinosaur and played hide and seek with my kids. It should not be that I fixated on which obscure county in Florida voted which way.
This whole thing is going to shake out however it’s going to shake out. What I don’t want to happen to me, or to anyone else frankly, is to get sucked into the vortex of this craziness at the expense of missing all the family, friends and absolute good in our lives.
Few could have said it better than Linus, from Peanuts. “There are three things I’ve learned never to discuss with people. Religion, politics, and the Great Pumpkin.”
So I will leave this with one of my favorite Monty Python sketches, “Election Night Special,” which dives into a close race between the Sensible Party and the Silly Party. The next time we come up on Election Day, I may just watch this sketch on a loop.