Article written by Domestic Affairs Editor Mark Csoros
The midterms just happened, and everyone’s excited and exhausted. Some of your candidates won, and some lost. But everyone, let’s calm down a little.
Complaining about politics is an American pastime even more American than baseball. We love to paint portraits of how our elected officials are going to run this country into the ground, or pull it back from the brink of disaster. In 2016, colleges gave mental health days to students protesting Trump’s election. In 2008, and again in 2012, Republicans thought that Obama would snuff out democracy and burn the declaration of independence. In Texas this year, friends of mine wax poetic about the fallen angel Beto, vanquished by Ted Cruz the lord of darkness. On the other side, I have friends who honestly believe that the 3% margin that elected Cruz is the margin between the Republic of Texas and the Democratic People’s Socialist Republic of Texas.
The truth is, America will be just fine. This isn’t to say that our elected officials don’t matter, or that our votes were wasted, but it is a reminder that we don’t need to stress about it. Whoever happens to govern for any particular electoral cycle has a minute impact on America and her people, especially compared to the everyday activities of the people they represent. How Ted Cruz votes in the Senate will affect you a lot less than the quality of your morning latte. Trump’s tweets will almost certainly impact you less than your next test score (or they should, anyway). Elected officials come and go, but the people of America will remain.
But, you ask, what about people who face problems different than yours? Shouldn’t we be concerned about the policies that affect people groups outside our own? You should be. But that concern would manifest itself much more productively if you directly helped the neighbors that you feel need it. If you think Trump is damaging someone’s “right to exist”, your twitter outrage won’t help. Acknowledging that “right to exist” might. If you’re concerned about immigrants, demanding that caravans be allowed into the U.S. is a start, but it’s probably less helpful than volunteering to teach basic English to recent immigrants, or bringing a meal to the immigrant family down the street.
America never has been and never will be a perfect country. Instead of stressing over the inevitable, do what you can do in the place you can do it in, and don’t worry about the rest. Treat people around you well. Don’t kick people out of your restaurant because they don’t believe what you do, or yell at them because they’re a different race than you. And most of all, don’t burn bridges or lose friends because of politics. You have the right to associate with whomever you want, and you don’t have to like everyone, but it seems counterproductive to create echo chambers of your friend groups. There’s something ironic about excluding people from your life because you think their political views exclude others. No one is evil simply because they support a different candidate than you, and no one deserves to be screamed at for exercising their right to free speech. Let’s make America better by being better versions of ourselves, and not by developing stress-related neuroses over what goes on in Washington.