Ask the grumpies: Self-care during a bigoted election season

Anu asks:

What are your suggestions for self-care during this crazy election, particularly when there is rampant misogyny and racism in the air?

#1 and #2 have had two very different approaches to this.

#1 recommends ostriching.

#2 has been spending way too much time following things.  She strongly recommends reading docrocktex26.

She’s also been donating money, subversively wearing pro-Hillary shirts on weekends, and cheering on her sister’s volunteer efforts (and feeling slightly guilty for not volunteering herself).

Looks like the washington post reports that the APA also has those two suggestions— either limit your media reading or go do something about what’s bothering you.

[It should be noted that #1 seems to be in perfectly good health this election season and #2 keeps getting sick (currently with an upper respiratory infection).  So maybe ostriching is healthier.  Or maybe students are just foul vectors of disease during midterms.]

Also I like the Hillary Shimmy song and I watch a lot of Seth Meyers.  I watch other comics too but turn them off when they get sexist.  (Seth Meyers has been really good about that this election season… so, oddly, has been Bill Maher.  Colbert a bit of a disappointment in that respect, and Trevor Noah varies– sometimes he’s spot on with regards to misogyny and sometimes he completely misses.  And of course Samantha Bee.)

And, like HRC herself, we are big fans of cat videos.

There’s not that much time left until November 8th. So hang in there!

How about you, grumpy nation, what self-care tips do you have for this election season?

31 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: Self-care during a bigoted election season”

  1. bogart Says:

    Subscribed to Audible and no longer listen to NPR (much). I have not watched a single debate. I voted early yesterday. We are donating money to some key causes/campaigns and I’m considering taking 11/8 off work to do GOTV work.

    Also, everyone in the household has current passports…

  2. bogart Says:

    Oh — and I installed the “Fluff Busting Purity” add-on to my FB account and use it to block and assortment of things, including news and any post containing the word “Trump.” It’s not perfect, but it’s pretty darn good (and googleable, if anyone else is interested in finding it).

  3. Dame Eleanor Hull Says:

    My version of ostriching includes distraction/replacement thoughts. Every time my attention is drawn to the election, I think about Edward I, instead. Or Edward IV, if I’m working on a different project. Court politics!

  4. chacha1 Says:

    Craziness has actually been pretty easy for me to avoid. We watch TV via Roku/Hulu, which means in order to find something that would stress me out I would have to go actively looking for it, and why would I do that? I’m not on FB much, just a few minutes during lunch hour most days, and my friends list is sufficiently controlled that the only people likely to post something upsetting have already been unfollowed. I don’t browse online. I have a few target destinations when I feel the need to waste time during the day. :-)

    Beyond controlling media intake (which started a long time ago), I read a lot of books, do my yoga, pet my cat, and go to dance class.

  5. becca Says:

    I’m not sure I’m using the internet in ways that help my mental health.
    One thing I’ve been doing that does seem to help is to find 3x positive Hillary Clinton things to RT for every time I mention Trump. Since most days there’s at least one hilarious joke at his expense, I also send out a bunch of other more positive stuff. For me, the most enduring depressing part of the election is how fact resilient people are. I *knew* this, logically. But right now it’s very much the Voltaire problem: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”. It’s not people believing they are magical unicorns that worry me.

    I actually need to do much better self care in general. I feel like I’m just enduring, and not very patiently. But the baby will come soon and that may shift the whole frame (there is just a lot of icky stuff to endure this late in pregnancy after all).

  6. First Gen American Says:

    What, no John Oliver? I’ve enjoyed him the most.

  7. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    #1 watches [only] John Oliver and no longer clicks on any links that #2 sends me. I am healthy as a horse.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      Slightly more seriously (#1 here again), I have the luxury of withdrawing because I have white privilege. I have become a stronger, more vocal proponent of #Blacklivesmatter this year. I make donations to nonprofits and stay away from corporate media as much as possible.

      • First Gen American Says:

        There was an article on linked in today about a scholarship app…and I couldn’t help but comment on a commenter that said something to the extent of “I wish there were more scholarships for white middle class kids”. I wasn’t rude but I said I was a beneficiary of scholarships and I have no problem paying more for my own kids in order for someone else to be able to dig out of poverty. That self awareness you speak of isn’t that common a trait.

  8. Contingent Cassandra Says:

    I’m afraid I’m pretty well immersed in the whole thing at this point (well, as much as someone who has no TV and a slowish internet connection can be), and I don’t think I’m going to break away until it’s over (though I’m glad that’s soon). Once it is, I will go on an internet/media diet, at least until the inauguration.

    At the moment, I’m inclined to take a view somewhat similar to that in the song: Trump may well be a gift to the first major-party female nominee, and to some extent to U.S. women in general, precisely because he’s willing to (in fact, can’t seem to stop himself from saying) stuff that other men (though not all of them) think, and that holds women back, all while genuinely believing that “no one respects women” more than he does (when they’re behaving like real women, and not being nasty, of course).

    As a woman in her early 50s (about the age Hillary was at the end of her husband’s second term), I’m also really enjoying watching a woman about to hit 70 who weathered some pretty hard stuff in midlife, has gotten a lot done in the last 20 years, and doesn’t seem inclined (or likely) to stop anytime soon. Maybe I’m overly hopeful (it’s not like Obama’s presence in the White House has significantly diminished racism; if anything, it may well have triggered, yes, something of an extinction burst, and that may in part explain some of Trump’s success), but I’m mildly optimistic that having a(nother) 70-something-year-old woman in charge (because we’ve already got a fair number of visible female leaders in the 55+ demographic) might do something to erode the impression that women past their reproductive years are over the hill professionally, rather than just hitting their stride.

    Also, I read Alexandra Petri in the Washington Post ( ). While not all of her columns are equally good, she often puts her finger on the gender dynamics of the campaign without losing sight of Hillary’s weaknesses. If you haven’t discovered her, I’d suggest starting with her version of Hillary’s convention speech (, and working your way forward in time, hitting at least the 3 debate recaps and the recent “nasty women” piece.

    I’ve also enjoyed watching a few of Hillary’s ads on youtube, because I do share her values, even as I’m aware that she doesn’t always live up to them (then again, neither do I, though the temptations I face are a bit different).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’m not sure you’re giving HRC enough credit. If you keep peeling the onion, you’ll see that she does live up to them as best is possible in the political situation. So she sneaks in amendments to lessen the negative power of things that would pass without her vote. There was a great article I read this week somewhere that gave examples of that.

      • Contingent Cassandra Says:

        Oh, I have no problem with her political pragmatism. I do have concerns about the extent to which both she and Bill have cashed in via speeches, etc. (though I think I also understand some of the money-anxiety that may have gone into those decisions), and the potential for appearance of conflict of interest created by the Clinton Foundation (if she was going to continue in politics, they probably should have held off on that; on the other hand, there’s the argument that Bill has every right to pursue a fairly common path for a retired president, independent of what she’s doing, and also an argument that keeping Bill occupied is probably a good thing for their marriage, and her career, as well as for him. Still, it created some very real vulnerabilities that, in any normal election season, would probably have torpedoed her chances at the presidency, so probably not a wise choice; it would have been better for Bill to partner with the Gateses or Jimmy Carter or whoever until Hillary was ready to retire).

        I am hopeful that they’ll put the foundation in mothballs (as much as possible given ongoing programs) for the duration of her presidency (once again, not necessarily because they did/are doing anything wrong, but because it could be a distraction) and find something useful and appropriate for Bill to do. I also hope that they’ve amassed enough wealth at this point to resist the temptation of more, and I think there’s a reasonable chance of that, too, since I don’t get the sense that either of them is all that money-motivated, just that they’ve become accustomed to (and to some extent committed to — if you’re an ex-president/first lady, you’ve got to have somewhere to put the secret service detail) a certain lifestyle, and wish to maintain it without having to think too much about money. My sense is that, for most of their careers — perhaps especially hers — they’ve gone back and forth between not paying too much attention to money and realizing that they’re in a financially vulnerable position, and scrambling to catch up, often in ways that left them at least vulnerable to the charge of unethical behavior (while they may not have committed any crimes in connection to Whitewater, it, too, was a real mess, which they could/should have avoided entirely).

        The Clintons are probably a pretty good object lesson in the need to pay attention to money matters, and live within your means, lest failing to pay attention undermine other areas of your life They’re also an argument for paying politicians decently, even — perhaps especially — in very poor states, to reduce temptations to corruption. Bill, admittedly, has some particular weaknesses of his own, but a failure to handle personal financial matters in a way that supports, or at least does not detract from, their vocations seems to be a weakness they share. They have, as a couple, been scandal-plagued, and a lot of those scandals have begun with money. I’m hopeful that they have matured past that point (one major strength of Hillary’s is that she learns from experience, though I’m not sure that pattern is as clear in her financial life as in other parts of her biography), but time will tell.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        I think you’ve bought into the media’s different treatment of Clinton compared to other politicians and the media’s manufactured scandals that have thus far turned into nothing but smoke once they’re investigated. Perhaps some of that is because they weren’t born with money like most other politicians, but earned it. They’re not old money, so they’re attacked. We don’t care that she’s the lowest paid political speaker (made less than Guiliani per speech) because those other guys didn’t really need the money and obviously couldn’t have been affected by it. And yes, there’s probably some misogyny with the media coverage as well.

  9. Debbie M Says:

    Mostly I use the ostrich strategy. My media choices mean that I am exposed mostly to left-wing-biased headlines, which I don’t click (but which help me keep up-to-date on current opinions about the odds), and silly fun things like the Clinton shimmy song. There’s no way I’d watch the debates, but I do read my friends’ takes on them and watch the comedians, so I’m not completely clueless.

    I also have a fine opportunity to practice my rationalizing/theorizing skills. So I do click on headlines that purport to explain how people could vote for Trump. Interestingly, I read that it’s not actually about low-paid whites being angry–Trump supporters tend to make more than average. It really, seriously is about hating/fearing minorities. I still haven’t figured out how to make sense of that. Are they afraid that when minorities are in charge, they will treat white men as badly as they’ve been treated? That would, indeed be scary!

    It’s also been bizarre that grabbing pussy has had a bigger negative effect than all the other crap Trump has said. As a last straw, it seems pretty tame to me. The best guess is that most white guys are related to females who, though they might never want an abortion or pre-marital birth control, they definitely have pussies. Of course they are also related to immigrants, but they don’t know them as well, since they’re mostly ancient or dead by now.

    Oh, and I also try to think of back-up plans if the worst happens. I do still have an unexpired passport, but I really don’t know what I would do. I don’t know what countries would let me in (for example, some want you to be employable; some want you to have a decent income from elsewhere). My favorite countries so far (The Netherlands, Norway, England, Canada, maybe Finland) are cold and/or expensive and I already know it’s hard to move to The Netherlands or Norway. I should probably do more research on Costa Rica. Uruguay has also been intriguing.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      They don’t want other groups catching up to them. People like feeling relatively superior.

      • becca Says:

        Obviously economic grievances and racial resentment can form a feed-forward loop. People don’t like feeling like they are loosing ground in money/status- so actually being poorer than your reference point, actually having fewer opportunities than before, having increased awareness of other people having more opportunities, AND people you’ve been trained to feel superior to having more opportunities ALL feed into Trumpism. I think the first three explain a lot of entrenched Republicanism in rural areas (that was my take away from that recent cracked article).

        Re: the Trump Tape remarks- you’ve got to remember, in Traditional Patriarchy Men are Authority Figures and Wives Are Property. So not only are the remarks crude, but they reflect BOTH an abuse of one’s individual power as an authority of sorts (“when you’re a star they let you get away with it”) and a misuse of property (it’s a violation of Traditional Authority Natural Order to assault someone’s wife). Of course the consent issue matters most to me, but I think the Bad Authority aspects might matter more to some conservatives on a visceral level.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        They’re not losing ground though. The people who are losing ground support HRC. Do you mean from just a relative sense, with the reference point being the worst off black person?

        Also definitely on the women as property thing.

      • Rosa Says:

        The more explanations of Trumpism in rural areas I read, and the more of my (grew up white in rural America, and fled) friends respond to them, the more I think there’s a very very simple explanation: they drove everyone else away. The people of color, the queer kids, the smart girls, the devout Christians who nevertheless believe in evolution and climate change…we were attacked, tortured, and shut out. We moved away. The bullies and those they feel are theirs, or those who keep their heads down and don’t speak up, they stayed. There are a brave few who stuck – even fifteen years ago there was an emerging very small circle of out gay people in my small hometown. But it was bad for a very, very long time, it was worse before my memory starts, and the long term effects are like the long term effects of sundown towns on all those rural places that “just happen” to be nearly all white. Not nearly everyone left behind is out and out fascist – not even a majority are – but the higher percentage who are, that’s why.

  10. Anu Says:

    Have to agree about Seth Meyers – he’s been my favorite of the comedians which is surprising because I always found him a bit bland when doing Weekend Update on SNL. John Oliver has been good when he covers the election though his intended audience often seems to be more undecided voters or third party voters.

    I’ve also been participating on the election threads on MetaFilter. Once out of the primaries they’ve served as a sane refuge.

  11. jlp Says:

    Sam Bee on my TV (well, ok, youtube) and @onlxn on Twitter. Without them, I would’ve had my head deep in the sand long ago. With them, I’ve probably been paying a little too much attention. At this point, it would almost definitely be better for me to look away, but I am completely addicted to the Trump Leaks.

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