Election Year Anxiety

Confession time: It’s campaign season, and I am stressing. And guys, it’s not even the results I’m worried about (well, OK, not only the results).

My first election as a registered voter was in 2008, my freshman year of college. I caucused in my home state, Hawaii, and was totally excited to experience a big election on a college campus — until I met my roommate. As I hung my Obama/Biden posters, she declared her love for the GOP (and her boyfriend made racist jokes about my man Barack on the regular). As you might imagine, by Election Day the atmosphere in our tiny dorm room was tense.

Now, as the 2012 presidential race enters the home stretch, I’m feeling that anxiety all over again.

When I watched the first debate at PSU on Oct. 3rd, I saw a few familiar faces around the room, and I started to wonder: Who are they voting for? Should I ask? I’d like to think I could have a rational political discussion with any of my classmates, but that isn’t always what happens. I’m proud of my convictions, but defending them to someone with different beliefs often leads to heated confrontations or awkward social situations — and nobody likes that.

So what should I do? I can’t just stop talking to everyone who disagrees with me until Nov. 2nd.  How do you deal with election year awkwardness?

10 thoughts on “Election Year Anxiety

  1. Ah, I too am involved in the political arena both on a national basis but also locally here in Clark County Washington where I reside.

    I would say, if you “openly where your political colors”, that is to say, you advertise what or whom you believe in and support by hanging posters, adorn your vehicle with bumper stickers, etc., you are advertising and inviting comment from others around you. This should not surprise you. For these people who make contact with you, don’t they have the right also to defend or support the candidate or issues of their choice? Are you not inviting them to do so?

    I think to avoid any awkwardness I would be prepared to speak concisely and to accurately state facts in support of your beliefs and claims. I think you should be prepared for people who only speak from their emotions and beliefs more so and less from facts and figures.

    If you look upon the election season as something of real importance for you, others around you, and your country than you should be ready and willing to support those views. However, if the election season is more of just excitement, glamor, and flag waving–you may choose to only associate with like-minded people for the entertainment value of this venue.

  2. See, that’s exactly my issue, Mike – a lot of people (or maybe most people?) relate to politics on the level of emotional involvement, moral/spiritual beliefs, etc. When it comes to the big social issues, what do you do when you end up in a conversation with someone whose beliefs are fundamentally opposed to yours? In principle I have no problem with talking politics, but in my experience it can put a lot of strain on personal relationships.

    1. Good to hear back from you Hannah.

      When you come into contact with people whose beliefs are fundamentally opposed to yours–there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. It is quite natural and should be expected. My response to you would be to examine how “you” cope with this difference and not so much how the other person deals with the difference. If you and the other party can rise above this difference between the two of you all will be well. Correct? That is, the two of you, even before you knew each other’s position on any certain political subject, you regarded each other in a certain way. Should this knowledge, about a difference of opinion about a political subject, change that overall opinion? I do not wish to be condescending now but maturity, learning to grow in intellect as well as emotions as a person ages, often has the affect of being more accepting or receptive to views other than our own.

      In short, if a personal relationship with someone becomes strained over a newly discovered political stance between the two of you, quite possibly that personal relationship was not meant to exist very long.

      1. Ah Hannah, it looks as though I have offended you. This was not my intent. I apologize to you and wish you well in your search of a balance between political issues and personal issues with friends and colleagues.

        Best of luck to you.

        Mike Briggs

  3. Whether anyone agrees with you or not is irrelevant, it is against the PSU code of conduct to make racist remarks especially which make other people uncomfortable and the intentions of those remarks are to get a response. It is your obligation to report the offender to the proper authorities so he does not offend anyone else!

    1. Absolutely! However, in this case the individual was not a student at the University, just an unpleasant guy (whom the roommate thankfully dumped after a couple of months!).

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