Emotional Health · Politics

P.E.S.D.: How to Cope with Post Election Stress Disorder

Those who supported the other major candidate, Hillary Clinton, are very disappointed to see a person who seemed so fit for office rejected in favor of an untested one. Hopefully, the Democrats can learn from this and find a way to connect better with the voters in the future. In the meantime, we all can reach out to each other, try to listen and understand why people feel so angry. We have a lot of work to do. As The Times wrote on Sunday,

“…. Regardless of who wins, after a presidential campaign marred by scandal, political violence, allegations of corruption and fears of voter fraud, America’s image stands tarnished in the eyes of its own people and the world….

Eight short years after the nation was lauded for overcoming its deepest prejudice by electing a black president, this campaign has laid bare an ugly underbelly of American politics. And it has exposed the capacity of a nation defined by its democratic ideals to fall victim to the same antidemocratic forces that have stymied third world countries.”

Americans have always prided ourselves on the strength of our democracy and imagined that we are able to rise above the problems that have beset other nations. But recently we have had to face the fact that our health care and social safety nets don’t work for many. The middle class is struggling, and millions live in poverty even as the gap between the poor and the richest among us keeps growing. It is clear, meanwhile, that the source of some of this wealth stems from questionable practices on Wall Street. And while crime has dropped, too many Americans are in prison and gun violence remains unchecked despite multiple shocking and horrifying incidents. And racism, if anything, seems worse, rather than better, than it was in 2008.

When Obama was inaugurated, he said, “On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises…(and) the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.” But his hope was dashed by this election cycle. A recent New York Times/CBS News poll  “found that 82 percent of voters felt more disgusted than excited about American politics because of this campaign,” calling it “historically ugly.”

On Wednesday morning, when conceding, Clinton tried to strike a hopeful note, saying, “I still believe our best days are ahead of us.” She urged us to never “stop fighting for what you believe is right.” By asking us to continue to participate in the process of democracy, she is recommending the best medicine. Action, rather than passivity, is what will heal us. Anyone who is upset about aspects of this election, as almost everyone is, needs to respond by trying harder to make democracy work more smoothly and more fairly.

What can we do? Let your elected officials know where you stand and hold them to their promises. Urge friends and family to register to vote. Volunteer and get involved in local politics and help support community projects. Teach your children about America and how the electoral process works in a democracy. Our history is a long one, and as a nation we have overcome many obstacles. If you want to be reminded of an important one, see Loving, a movie version about the eponymous couple whose case went to the Supreme Court, resulting in the legalization of interracial marriage. There is a moving scene in which the African-American wife, Mildred Loving, speaks to her discouraged lawyer. “We may not win all the battles,” she says, “but maybe we’ll win the big war.”

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  • hillsmom November 10, 2016 at 8:59 pm

    Where is everybody? I personally am devastated. So the bar was low enough that Trumplethinskin was able to slither over it. How could any thinking woman cast a vote for him? Ok, probably this comment won’t survive to be allowed here. But, it makes me feel a bit better.

    I do feel that the dud/bomb dropped by Comey on Friday, 10/28…which was allowed to simmer over the weekend, and finally the day before the election, it was announced NOTHING was there regarding HRC. It just had to have some effect. Oh, and didn’t you love the way Giuliani was gleefully rubbing his hands as he indicated there was something coming before the dud was dropped? Well, President Obama has the intelligence and grace to go forward for a peaceful transition of power. Do you think if the roles were reversed that would happen? Ha! Elizabeth Warren, please start your engines.