Elias: Politics Are Emotional

Americans’ heightened emotions are necessary to restore political stability.

The line between politics and self-identity has long been blurred in America, and this past midterm election has highlighted this. Politics are felt in every corner of the country, whether it is at the municipal, state or federal level. As such, the American political system has become intertwined with many citizens’ personal identities. Whether people wish to tune into politics or not, decisions made in the White House are inevitably going to affect their lives. As a consequence, there is a higher level of emotional energy directed into campaigning, political conversations and voting. This personal stake correlates with a higher level of ownership that I believe is good news for the future of American politics.

On Nov. 6, The New York Times published an article explaining the anxiety shared by both Republicans and Democrats on midterm Election Day. The consensus across over a dozen interviews was that American citizens “reported a kind of emotional pinballing about the verdict to come” with “faith and dread taking turns like kids on a diving board.” Almost half of the interviewees shared that they felt “anxious” about the upcoming elections. Is it a good thing that our stomachs flutter with anxiety when we turn on the TV to check the midterm polls? Is it wise that anxiety, a physical response to a fight-or-flight scenario, is associated with the country’s political fate? I would argue yes.

Americans are bridging a massive gap that existed between citizens and their decision-making bodies for a large part of American history. When the president is favorably regarded by the majority of the American public, it is easy to take a back seat and let politics do its thing. But when presidents are widely looked upon unfavorably, it is easy for citizens to feel insignificant compared to the large, complex…

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