November 5, 2010

Coping with change

Drinking heavily isn't the only way of dealing with disappointing election results

After the results of the midterm elections, things are looking bleak for the Democratic Party and many of its liberal college student adherents. Right now, if you’re a Democrat, you might feel like hiding away, not even coming out for Thanksgiving (because then you’ll have to face your one Republican uncle). But face it, the next two years are an awfully long time to spend drinking your sorrows away –even if you finally turn 21 by the next election. So instead of going through all five stages of grief, let’s cut this thing off at “disappointment,” and figure out other, more constructive ways to cope with a political loss.

Right now, you have two options. You can laugh or you can cry. There is also the third option of maintaining a straight facial expression, and if you want to do that, that’s fine with me. But in any case, if you’ve had a strong (negative) reaction to the election results, you’re probably looking for some kind of comfort right now. And while there is the option of, as not just a voter but an active citizen, maintaining involvement in the American political system beyond when you’re casting a ballot, you might be looking for ways to feel better about the situation immediately, and not sometime down the line.

First of all, finding the humor in the situation is key. Daily trips to The Onion’s website, the nation’s premiere fake news source, can make you feel better (Their current take on the situation? “Last Remaining Politician Must Rebuild Entire Government Following Bloodiest Midterm Election In American History.”). Also, remember back to the Bush administration. Dark days? Perhaps. But a fertile, eight-year period full of political hilarity nonetheless, often provided by the president himself. Bush, for all his flaws, gave us such gems as “Our enemies are innovative and resourceful and so are we. They never stop thinking of ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.” Is this quote distressing? Sure. Does it portray the sort of lapse in logic you’d hope your country’s president wouldn’t demonstrate? Of course. But is it hilarious? Well, I think so, anyway.

So, while America’s current political situation might make you feel like crying, remember that there’s a lot to laugh about. For instance, embrace your inner 12-year-old and delight in the improper pronunciation of the new Speaker of the House John Boehner’s last name. Yes, I know it’s supposed to sound like “bay-nor” and not “boner.” And yes, I know that boner jokes constitute the absolute lowest form of humor, that class of bodily function jokes that you shouldn’t make in polite company. But you’re a college student, and polite company is pretty much impossible to find outside the Quadrangle Clubs anyway, so let your mind run wild. And don’t worry, as the U.S. government begins to do more stupid things, more sophisticated humor will result from these election results than commentary on “electile dysfunction” and the like.

If you’re just not into the humor route of coping with political disappointment, there’s something else you can try: throwing yourself into your schoolwork. I may be presenting two extremes here (one form of coping that makes you laugh, and the other that makes you cry harder), but there’s something valid about working hard to forget about your troubles. If you find yourself getting into long, political debates with your friends, and monologuing overwrought lamentations on the election outcomes, you should probably spend your time in a more productive manner. You’re going to have to do your readings anyway, so why not use them to take your mind off what you’ve been reading in the newspaper? Just walk away from the heated debates about things that are, right at this moment, beyond your power, and get your homework done for Power already.

But if all else fails in your coping process, start planning ahead. Make sure you’re registered to vote in the state that you actually want to vote in. Set up an email reminder (after all, you’ll probably have that same Gmail account in two years) to get to the polls or to send out for your absentee ballot.

You might be feeling a lot of disappointment after the elections, but there are a few other emotions that might be better worth your while. If you don’t like the current state of the union, you shouldn’t let it consume your life. Or you should do something about it–which I admit would require a completely different How To column.

Alison Howard is a third-year in the College majoring in English.