So long as the hotel has wifi, a traveler is never really off the grid. Getting away for a couple of weeks can, however, reduce the non-stop, maybe compulsive, reading of the daily political news that consumes the lives of so many of us. I’d be the last person to argue that citizens should cut themselves off from the political world, but we should question how much of our time and attention it warrants.
A recent trip gave me the opportunity to reflect on my news consumption. I certainly scanned my daily emails, but didn’t feel the need to read every breaking story several times on different sites. After all, there were fascinating places to see, different cuisines to sample and the opportunity to learn about other cultures and their histories.
While I was away, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed for a seat on the United States Supreme Court, the Saudis butchered an American journalist in their consulate in Turkey, Donald Trump made up ever more outrageous lies hoping to terrify the electorate before the November election and campaigns in many places reached new depths of ugliness.
Being somewhat insulated from the day-to-day news cycle gave me the chance to consider whether I had missed or lost anything of significance. I don’t think so. I certainly reduced the frequency of my outrage at what is going on politically in this country, but that outrage by itself is not particularly useful. In fact, I would argue that it gets in the way of our ability to prioritize and focus on those things that we might be able to impact by political involvement.
Let me try to illustrate that last point. We have regular reports of the increased frequency of Donald Trump’s public lies. I already know that he is a compulsive liar. I know that he is a raging narcissist. I know that he is not interested in facts or science. More evidence of those truths will not make me sleep better at night nor will it help me fashion a political response to his presidency.
I’m certainly not arguing that we should condone his behavior or ignore it, but neither should we let him distract us from our primary objective. There is really only one way that citizens who are alarmed about the direction in which Trump is taking this country can change that course, and that is by showing up and voting on November 6.
At this point, there is no longer such a thing as a reasonable or moderate Republican. Every member of that party in Washington and throughout the country ultimately supports or condones the President’s agenda and behavior. We have been suckered too many times by Senator Susan Collins of Maine. Let’s stop falling for her dance of agonizing over a decision that always ends in disappointment. If you want to stop the cruel and cynical acts of Mitch McConnell, take away his majority. If you want to restore a degree of accountability to what goes on in Washington, make sure that there is a Democratic majority in the House of Representatives.
Nothing else matters as much. Don’t be distracted by Trump’s transparently phony announcement that a tax cut is coming. Pay no attention to) his outrageous, unfounded claims regarding an immigrant caravan that won’t reach our border until December at the earliest.
Equally, it’s way past time to shed the Democratic indifference to state and local elections. Stop worrying about who the Presidential nominee in 2020 will be. There’s plenty of time. Instead, give your attention, your money, and, most importantly, your vote to Democratic candidates for Governor, the U.S. Congress and the State legislatures. And where there are local government races, get yourself informed and then make sure you vote.
Think how much time we would all have to devote to the important matter of getting Democrats elected on November 6 if we stopped using so much energy chasing Trump’s outrageous stories down various rabbit holes.
A lot of attention has been paid over the past several months to the idea that a Democratic wave is coming on November 6. That story has had its ups and downs, with breathless attention given to Trump’s polling numbers and his fiery rallies. Forget it. None of that matters.
The ONLY thing that matters is if you and everyone who cares about the welfare of the United States votes for change in this year’s election. Don’t assume that all your friends and relatives will vote. Remind them. Help them if they need it. There can be no excuses. Elections have consequences. Don’t have regrets afterwards.