Opinion

2020 Election Burnout: Family Arguments, Broken Friendships, and Mental Health Fatigue 

Where’s Your Head After this Election?

Published 11/11/2020 | Reading Time 3 min 59 sec 

Opinion by Joshua Wann, Contributing Writer

Courtesy of the Today Show


The Presidential Election is a funny thing. On the one hand, how much does the office of the President really affect our everyday life? Maybe that question is also a privilege check. 

I’d imagine if you have a friend or family member sitting in an ICE detention center, your life feels greatly impacted by the office of the President. Or perhaps if you run a small business and the taxes and policies that are put on your business feel greatly impacted by the President.

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Of course, things like your city’s jail or local law enforcement institutions cooperating with ICE might be what really impacts your life. Or a city’s ordinances or funding incentives also probably hit a small business in a more tangible, immediate way. How does the saying go? think global, act local.

Whatever the nuances — the influences, or the trickle-down impact the head of state actually has on your regular life, there is one thing for certain: The election itself shakes up your life. Personally, I’m someone who believes in the importance of the office itself, and the focus we put on it might be a little misplaced. Not that it’s not important. 

I just wish we paid as much attention to city council elections, mayors, and for the love of God, school board meetings as much as we pay attention to half-coherent tweets from someone who fired Lil Jon then “forgot” who he was. How do you forget someone who walks around with a chalice? 

See! I’m guilty, too. 

I looked way too much into that little bit of gossip than I have several important issues regarding my local government. So I get it. 

As stated earlier, it’s also an indication of my privilege. That, for the most part, the goings-on of the White House rarely impacts my concrete, actual life. 

So why has my blood pressure, anxiety, depression, insomnia, bowel movements, and the number of times I find myself weeping inexplicably in Aldi, all greatly increased since 2016? 

Because even if the executive decisions don’t reach my door, the dialogue surrounding it does. The discussions, the social media posts, the feelings of the people in my life who are impacted directly, all wind up in my head and in yours. 

And come to find out, some of the people you know and love sided with Trump. 

The election is a mental-health issue and as with our dealings with many episodes of anger and anxiety, sometimes that energy is incorrectly sourced. Don’t get me wrong, your frustration with Trump and his administration is super, well-deserved, but ultimately is not surprising. 

What really hurts me, what really pushes me towards coping with two pints of Ben and Jerry’s, is when my outrage and frustration is aimed at friends and family who refuse to back or sympathize with someone they know (me!) and instead back some shouty, bully of a stranger (Trump). That’s what I wrestle with, not my feelings around Trump. 

We are used to the playground bully punching us, and that trauma is real, but our dear friend punching us is much more upsetting, and it challenges our perception of what we thought to be true. 

If Trump was the antagonist in a TV show, I’d critique the writers for being lazy and cliche. I know who and what Trump is. But for a family member or friend to side with him? Et Tu, Brute?

The election brings out our most passionate emotions because the topics that come out are at the very core of who we are. You’re upset that the President, someone with policy power and influence, is such an abhorrent, unrepentant racist. But you are devastated that the uncle or aunt or brother or sister or parent or friend you’ve had your entire life is supportive of such a person and not you.

It’s especially mind-altering if you feel you have your beliefs from the very same person you are now arguing with. “Why do I care so much about the treatment of immigrants? Uhhhh, because you raised me to love everyone even at the risk of our own comfort and safety! Or were we just playing about the whole Jesus love thing?” Now, it’s personal. 

Dealing with upper-level politicians who prove to be dishonest and despicable is old news. We are used to institutions not being in our favor. But my friends? My family? That’s a new hurt.

If you’re like me, last weekend allowed for a brief reprieve from the onslaught of grief that has been most of 2020 and this season of America: Democracy or Demons? There is still a mountain of issues to sort out in Washington, and I don’t see that going away any time soon. 

However, and more importantly to me, how are you doing? How are your relationships doing after all this? I hesitate to use the word “lost” because it sounds like they died by some vague Sci-fi monster (“We lost Uncle Ted to Trump this year”) but if you lost someone during the election, are you healing? I’m not saying it’s time to go make amends. If things got that bad, you probably had some very good reasons for severing some of those ties or setting healthy boundaries. So what are you doing to heal? Have you formally mourned that loss in your life? Have you given yourself permission to not feel guilt and instead feel peaceful closure? 

I hope any divide made during this election for you has a possibility of authentic restoration. But if not, then I hope you can still know repair and recovery; maybe it’s foolish to think it’s possible or maybe just not yet. But I know we all need healing. I know my waistline needs a break from coping ice cream. The Presidential Election is a serious thing.


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Josh Wann is a contributing writer for The Black Wall Street Times. He lives and teaches in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and is often accompanied by his lovely wife and the chaotic, adorable hurricane known as his hoard of three children. He’s published prose and poetry in publications such as Hard Crackers, Dragon Poet Review, The Ogham Stone, and Concis, among others. His short story collection, A Brief History of Fools, is available on Amazon for only $.99 and he really wants you to believe the rave review it has, even though it’s the only one and it’s written by his mom.

Categories: Opinion