Politics and Mental Health Sliding Together

The mid-term elections are fast approaching. Within a matter of weeks, our airwaves will be inundated with 30 second spots extolling the virtues of a particular candidate.

Soft, soothing music, or rousing patriotic anthems playing in the background as the special interest groups funding that candidate tells us that its candidate is a combination of Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, George Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Or more likely, that 30 second spot, with background music of a dramatic, alarming dark theme will warn us that a certain candidate is first cousin to the Anti-Christ and seeks to watch the world burn if he/she can be “King of the Ashes.”

And as our two major political parties, Tweedledum and Tweedledee continue to propagate their political agenda, that is, “The Needs of the Party are Greater than the Needs of the Republic,” the victims of this mindless, ever increasing power grab are you and me, the public residing in what was once, this great Nation.

National networks which once were looked upon as revered, responsible outlets for reporting news with integrity and honesty have become nothing more than public relation shills for Tweedledum and Tweedledee.  

The growing, detrimental impact of this unethical gamesmanship is not just increasing but is becoming devastatingly harsh and cruel. And our mental health is being impacted.

In 2017 and again, in 2020, studies were conducted on the impact of politics on the mental, physical and social health of US citizens. The results were alarming.

Some of the findings of these studies were as follows:

“Based on the 2019–20 Census Bureau population estimates, the resident population of the United States included approximately 255 million adults at the time of the 2020 survey. Based on that number, the findings from the pre-election survey suggest that somewhere between a fifth and a third of adults—roughly 50 to 85 million people—blame politics for causing fatigue, lost sleep, feelings of anger, loss of temper, as well as triggering compulsive behaviors (e.g. difficulty in stopping thinking about politics and consuming political information), and difficulties in impulse control (e.g. posting social media comments they later regretted; these estimates calculated using the percent agreeing or strongly agreeing with relevant survey items). A quarter of Americans reported seriously considering moving because of politics, and an estimated 40 percent—more than 100 million—consistently identify politics as a significant source of stress in their lives. Astonishingly, all three surveys consistently indicate that around five percent of adults report having suicidal thoughts because of politics—that’s an estimated 12 million people. [emphasis added]

“The results here indicate that Americans see politics as significantly degrading their physical, psychological and social health and that, if anything, the most recent presidential election worsened these effects.”

“Deterioration in measures of physical health became detectably worse in the wake of the 2020 election. Those who were young, politically interested, politically engaged, or on the political left were more likely to report negative effects…”

“Part of the answer may be found in the consistent findings of who is most likely to report that politics has a negative impact on their health—the young, left-leaning (Democratic identifiers), [i.e., every counselor, therapist, university professor and organization in the eating disorder community] politically interested, and politically engaged—as well as the consistently prophylactic effect of a variable that can be manipulated, i.e., political knowledge.” 

“Indeed, polls suggest that during his [President Trump] term partisan discord escalated to the point where opposing political camps disagreed not just on policy and governing preferences but even on “basic facts”. Those deepening divisions almost certainly exacerbated a pre-existing tendency for politics to take a toll on the physical, psychological and social health of Americans. Between Trump’s 2016 election victory and his 2020 re-election campaign psychotherapists reported a significant jump in patients reporting politics negatively affecting their mental health.” 

“The American Psychological Association identified politics as a major source of stress for American adults and there were sizeable increases in rates of depression, anxiety, loss of sleep, and emotional reactivity among groups with high levels of opposition to President Trump such as Democrats, racial minorities and students.”

This research article can be found here:

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0262022

As we race to become the mythical government portrayed in the cult film classic, “Idiocracy,” the ramifications of the mental health deterioration of the Republic caused by politics are readily apparent. Friendships being torn asunder by differing views on a candidate. The person with whom we hope to date must pass a “Who did you vote for test.” People saying that they will move to Canada or Mexico if a certain candidate wins. Individuals losing their own sense of identity as they embrace every issue espoused by the Tweedle Party of their choice.

As individuals, we recognize, acknowledge and understand that being fallible is part of the human condition. None of us is perfect. However, when you take fallible human beings, and put them together under the flag of one of the Tweedle Parties, they become the Wizard of Oz … all knowing, all seeing, incredibly wise, incapable of error.

The Tweedle Parties are the kids fighting in the sand box. They are also grabbing the wrists of the public and are forcibly dragging us into that sand box. To make matters worse, they are not telling us that the sand is in fact, quicksand. And if we do not resist and are pulled into the sandbox, we will surely be inundated and slowly drown in the quicksand.

So, what can we as citizens of the Republic do to get out of the sandbox? Perhaps to start with, stop exclusively surrounding yourself with sycophants who espouse the same ideas, the same theories and the same beliefs you have. When everyone is preaching the same chapter and verse, new lessons are not learned. The mind is not stimulated to grow and evolve but instead, is cemented in isolation. A number of people are credited with saying words to the effect of, “Surround yourself with people who challenge how you think, not people who nod their head and act like they agree. Those people who challenge you may scare you, but in the end, they will be the ones there for you when you need them.”

Politics do not define you. Positions on individual issues do not define you. Having an “R” or a “D” after your name does not define you. The Tweedle Parties do not have a place in elevating or demeaning your value, your self-worth. Neither Tweedle Party has unique, all-knowing insight and knowledge about the goodness of your heart, the strength in your soul or your loving and caring nature.

It is long past time that we stop focusing on our differences, differences which are played up by the media and instead start focusing on how we are so incredibly similar. How we want to live in peace, with love, in harmony. How we want to all rise as one, with grace, with honor and in doing so, we allow others to grasp our hand and to also rise.

In doing so, we will start to address those mental health issues caused by the Tweedle Parties. And hands that have been used to strike our neighbors, our brothers and our sisters with fear and malice can be turned into helping hands of cooperation and love.

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