The New York Post
October 31, 2016
With the election that feels like it has gone on for the majority of our natural lives winding down, it seems crazy to imagine that when it’s finally over we’ll miss it. But it’s fairly common to do just that.
After the recriminations, the finger-pointing and all the post-mortems, we may find a hole in our lives where the election of 2016 used to be.
“Impossible!” go the cries from people who have been counting down the days until a winner is finally declared and we can all safely go back on social media again. And it’s true that this election, where 13 percent of respondents in a Public Policy Polling survey conducted last June chose “Giant Meteor” over either of the two major-party candidates, appears to have long worn out its welcome.
Headlines like “This is the worst presidential campaign in modern history” and “Trump and Clinton: The two worst things that could happen to America” have been standard throughout the race.
A HuffPost/YouGov poll released last week found that 81 percent of Americans wish this election was over already. Social media is filled with people who can’t wait until Nov. 8 and not because they so badly want to vote. People are sick of the election, and they’re definitely sick of the two candidates.
As Mary Kay Linge reported in The Post in May, “Both [Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton] have the lowest net favorability numbers ever measured. Clinton’s minus-20 would be by far the lowest in history — if not for Trump’s, which is even worse at minus-41.”
An uneventful, mellow election this has not been. Yet it’s precisely because the insanity of the race has ratcheted up the level of intensity and interest in the election to such an extent that a letdown seems inevitable.
The term “post-election hangover” is used to describe a variety of post-voting blues, and the more you’ve focused on the election, the more likely you are to experience it — no matter who wins.
Dr. Jonathan Friedman, director of psychology with The COR Group, says that supporters of both candidates “may wake up to a sense of emptiness and disillusion once the election has come and gone” due to the “immense amount of emotional and mental energy” people have expended during the campaign.
It’s true this campaign has been atypical, but it turns out hatred for a candidate inspires political passion not dissimilar from loving one. Hillary supporters might spend more time criticizing Trump than talking up Hillary (and vice versa) but the fact is that time and energy are being invested regardless. When that’s over and there’s no more arguing, persuading or cajoling left, it won’t be strange to miss it.
The losing candidate’s supporters will be sadder, of course. In 2004, Michael Moore famously took to his bed for three days after George W. Bush won re-election.
It’s not just the general election, either. Ted Cruz announced in March 2015, Hillary Clinton in April, Donald Trump in June. And there was at least a year, if not years, of intrigue and speculation before that. That’s a long time to be immersed in something that will suddenly end. Even those who aren’t very political will feel a big shift when the main news story of the last year and a half finally reaches a conclusion.
Whether it’s Trump’s 3 a.m. tweets at whoever slighted him last that gets your goat, or Clinton’s painfully fake “chilling in Cedar Rapids” or claiming to carry hot sauce in her bag (or all of the above), the daily campaign drama will suddenly be gone.
When the FBI reopens the Hillary e-mail investigation with 11 days to go or Trump’s hot-mic comments disgust us all, it’s hard to say it’s not exciting.
What will fill the void?
In a 2010 article for CNN about combating post-election stress, Dr. Ivan Walks, a public-health physician and psychiatrist, suggested, well, going back to living your life.
“If you haven’t gone to church in a few weeks, go. If you missed your kids’ soccer game — all of the things that make up the rest of your life during the election lulls — then let them come back into your life.”
There might be something to the whole living-your-life thing. Maybe there’s actually more to life than politics. And if not, the election of 2020 should begin any minute now anyway.
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