How I Deal With Political Anxiety
All of us have felt it at some time or another, the vague feeling of despair and hopelessness, of wanting for a world that wasn’t so out of control, of wishing we could do something to save it as it treks such a perilous path. Many who come to encounter such a near-nihilistic pit of sorrow become what is colloquially known as “black-pilled”. The term is a derivation of a related meme concerning a dichotomous decision between taking the red pill (and understanding the truth about the world around us), and taking the blue pill (which would make him as ignorant as the masses yet again concerning the deeper truth behind the facade) for the main character in the movie “The Matrix”. It raises an important and fundamental question as to whether it is better to reside in the comfort of blissful ignorance or to face the brutal reality that awaits on the other side of the “Red Pill”. Although, there are many more variables for those of us who know the truth in real life concerning the reality of our society than there was for the main character in the movie.
It is no coincidence that the “Clown World” meme is going on simultaneously to the #YangGang meme, they are both, in a sense visceral responses to the state of the culture that surrounds us currently.
We can personally benefit from the knowledge of the truth in particular areas of modernity, (ex: gender relations), though in other areas we are burdened with the knowledge of that which we cannot directly affect in any meaningful way as individuals (ex: the left’s efficacy in their quest for power and dominance). This leaves us in a conundrum of sorts, especially for those of us who are acutely interested in politics, philosophy, and economics. Any good economist knows that value is subjective, and yet it seems as though I can say with near certainty that it will be a waste of your emotional energy to invest a significant amount of it into something that you are almost entirely unable to affect.
Many of us learned this lesson the hard way, after riding the wave of energy in the early days of the Trump movement from 2015 all the way to the glorious night that no conservative will truly ever be able to forget. I will fully admit it, I myself engaged in all the activities that I now warn against.
Every day I was checking the latest polling data on RCP, checking the state by state polling, refreshing the Drudge Report, or counting the number of times that Nate Silver predicted a Hillary Clinton victory. I remember the night vividly, I started the day after having stayed up to watch his 11th-hour rally in Grand Rapids Michigan (I was off on election day). It all came down to this, I knew that either way this would be the last time I would see him in campaign mode for at least a while, and the imminence of such a monumental apex that would decide the fate of the nation, had me on edge all day long. I went to go walk around parts of town that were, let’s just say, less than favorable to my cause, with someone that I had been with at the time in a MAGA hat just to virtue signal regarding how much that I not only wanted Hillary Clinton to not become president, but how much I wanted Donald Trump to win. I had genuine fear, frustration, rage, panic, and despair all throughout the election cycle as I became increasingly more concerned that half of the country was ready to vote Hillary Clinton in as President of The United States. I remember the level of intensity that I had staring at the NYT prediction meter, and watching it shift around hour by hour. I distinctly remember Trump winning the state of Florida, which was the necessary, but not sufficient turning point in the night in order for Trump to ride to victory. My fears of a blow out had been immediately alleviated, although too much information remained to be seen. As it became clear that Trump was going to at least carry every state that Mitt Romney carried (and then some), all eyes were focused on the “blue wall” of Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. The election prediction meter had shifted dramatically from giving Hillary Clinton the overwhelming chance of victory to slightly favoring Trump. At this point, a bout of euphoria set in wherein I finally found proof of concept that this world is not necessarily controlled by a monolith of power that has the ability to stop us if we can manage to beat them. I was 17 years old at the time and so most of what I can remember surrounded either a milk toast Republican presidency, such as George Bush’s, or Obama and Democrats dominating across the board with no end in sight. I always vaguely felt as though I was growing up in a dystopia that was unbreakable, and yet on the night of November 8th, 2016, I was rejuvenated with hope for the future, that good things could potentially happen in this world politically. Euphoria overtook me as I watched the media that had always smugly and arrogantly talked down to us, have an embarrassing meltdown on live television as Trump smashed through the “blue wall” with his victory in Pennsylvania (My home state), securing his eventual presidency. I associated Trump’s victory with an all-out revolt against all those who had arrogantly assumed that perpetual Democrat and Neocon rule (with a sprinkle of globalism) was the deterministic future of this country, and if we didn’t like it then we could go leave the country for being a racist, or something. These people’s arrogance dissipated that evening, only to replaced with a level of hostility and aggression that is akin only to a cornered animal.
I must admit, that night of euphoria was one that I will not soon forget. Eventually, though, the euphoric state dissipated and the hangover of the 2016 election settled in with Republican defeats in several elections in 2017. The nearly infinite array of possibilities began to again recede back to a state of semi-normalcy, still, though, we had Donald Trump as President of The United States. The first major sign of trouble came in late 2017 when Roy Moore lost in the Alabama senate race in a fluke victory for Democrats in such a deeply red state. This is when I knew that Republicans were on a perilous path regarding their chances in the 2018 midterms. I was aware of the general statistics regarding what tends to happen after a white house political party change in the following midterm elections, and it was not typically favorable to the incumbent party. I thought that if we were able to collectively emulate the energy of 2016, we could properly defend against their attempts to rob us of our house majority. Unfortunately, as the election drew nearer, those of us who could read between the lines of all of the data came to the conclusion that we were going to most likely lose the house majority. This stirred up a feeling up panic that had only been rivaled by the prospect of Hillary Clinton dragging us into WWIII following her victory. I felt completely powerless as election day came along, although I had done my part in attempting to rhetorically alter the outcome to the capacity that I was able to. I had produced a large amount of content leading up to the midterm election, as well as having volunteered for a local Republican congressman who was on the verge of losing re-election. On the car ride back from volunteering on election day, I knew that the fate of the nation had already been most likely sealed, and that results would be coming in at any minute. There was a sense of impending doom, it felt as though our country was about to consciously decide to commit electoral suicide by voting in dangerous communists who would hamper Trump’s presidency and eventually lead to our fall. I came back home to a glimmer of hope when the east coast results had come in, but this hope had been blown away within an hour after it became clear that the Democrats were slated to take the House of Representatives. Although we had managed to help in saving the local seat, the Republicans succeeded in keeping the Florida governorship red, and they managed to make gains in the Senate, it felt as though everything that we had been building up was wrecked in a single night.
I felt a sense of hopelessness for the countries future, to some degree an equal and opposite visceral reaction to 2016’s euphoria (albeit not even close to being in proportion, given that it was merely a midterm election). All of my lamenting, all of my screaming into the ether regarding proper strategy had hardly affected the outcome by more than perhaps a few votes, essentially inconsequential in an election wherein millions are able to vote.
There is a greater lesson to be learned through these experiences, and that is one of what it means to truly emotionally invest in something. When you emotionally invest in something, no true downside protection is provided. When the market of dopamine goes up, you enjoy the return on investment greatly, although there is no such thing as a free lunch, and thusly when the market of dopamine goes down independent of your own action, you too must fall with it. You essentially sign away your emotional state to an external reality, of which you have little control over. Unfortunately, if you are on the right in contemporary politics, you cannot afford such a risky gamble to rest your internal happiness on. The left melted down in 2016 in large part because their political agenda had become their religion, and they had been spoiled by consistent and unwavering victories, and Donald Trump represented a real threat to their agenda. They had been parking all of their emotional capital in the blue-chip stock of leftist policy advancements in the United States. For those of us on the right, this is a luxury we are not generally afforded, for our plans are generally thwarted through various means, regardless of our placebic power that we are periodically granted.
I eventually came to the realization that I could no longer emotionally invest in something that I could hardly affect the outcome of. Although this alone as a principle is flawed, given that if it were taken to its logical conclusion, almost everyone on the right ought to become entirely dissociated from politics and allow the left to outmatch us in political enthusiasm. I am not at all suggesting that we become politically apathetic, or even downright blackballed as many #YangGangers on the right are, rather I am suggesting that we think through rationally our level of emotional investment.
My suggestion is that we ought to emotionally invest proportionately to our ability to affect the outcome. This is a difficult thing to actually measure, though a rough estimation will suffice. I have somewhat of an audience and so my emotional investment is justifiably higher than the average person's, though still not as high as someone working in the Trump campaign at a high level ought to have. This is not to say that we should not keep ourselves informed, but rather that we ought to pay attention closely, but from an emotional distance. I suggest only paying attention from the perspective of observing a historical event, which does not hit close to home, but you still may find fascinating.
“These changes actually affect me though, how could I ever emotionally divest in such monumental change?”, one might ask. Well for starters, how will you brace for the flood if you don’t even have your own house in order? My recommendation is to focus first and primarily on getting your own life under control independent of external circumstances. After your personal life is as under control as you can get it, take a look at all of the potential changing circumstances and create contingency plans as to what YOU can personally do to adapt to them in order to best survive. Make a plan for as many political scenarios as you can imagine occurring, it is best to prepare for the worst case scenario. Only after your personal contingency plans are already in development would I then recommend focusing on what you can personally do to affect the outcome of our socio-political situation. It is my contention that If you do not follow this hierarchy of needs, you are making a fundamental error that will lead to unhappiness and failure. This way you can both save yourself from suffering the full emotional devastation of potentially losing your country, while also maximizing the chances of being able to save it on the macro scale.
This is not to say that one ought not to take politics up as an interest that they may have, rather it is just a reasonable warning against investing emotionally in that which you cannot control. You may not even need to adjust your level of consumption of politics at all, you may even want to increase it. I myself am extremely interested in politics, although I am interested from a point at which I am as emotionally detached from the outcome as possible, granted that I did all that I believe that I’m morally obligated to do axiomatically.
Think to yourself right now (assuming you have your personal affairs in order), are you personally prepared for a collapse of our country if it were to occur tomorrow? Do you have a place to flee BEFORE things go haywire if socialism sweeps the nation? In order to be personally emotionally secure regardless of the outcome of events that we cannot meaningfully affect, we must maximize our utilization of the levers of control over that which we CAN directly affect FIRST. If you get value out of my work, please make sure to donate and subscribe below.
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