We Shouldn't Underestimate Political Fatigue
Let's be honest: Americans don't like politics. Few would rather talk about tax legislation than their favorite band or sports team, and those that would are usually working in Washington anyway. And ever since the 2016 election season began three years ago, it seems as though politics has become far too ingrained in our daily lives.
The Trump side of the aisle might point to national anthem protests as an invasion, while the Left could cite ever-more-visible white nationalist demonstrations, and they would both be right. But more worrisome, in my opinion, is the constant hysteria that has come with politics recently, and much of it has to do with the President.
The media coverage of then-candidate Trump has been repeatedly cited as a key to his ascension, and many political commentators fault the media for giving airtime to a candidate so well-disposed to dog-whistle politics and serial misstatement. But the media has the duty to cover presidential hopefuls, especially when they make egregious or inaccurate statements. It just so happened that Trump made strange or inflammatory statements so often that it seemed as though each day would bring a new headline with a ridiculous highlight. In a media culture that turned "binders full of women" into a national phenomenon and sunk a presidential campaign because of a voice crack, it's no surprise that bragging about sexual assault on tape or insulting a gold star family caused hysteria. But all that coverage took a toll--Americans were incredibly unhappy with the 2016 election, and many hoped that its end would spell an end to the day-to-day catastrophes played out on live TV. Unfortunately, they were wrong.
The Trump Presidency appears to have ratcheted up media coverage, and probably for good reason. Cabinet nominees astoundingly incapable of answering basic questions have gone viral on Twitter, blatantly wasteful practices and corruption have been apparent since the get-go, net neutrality reclassification (however minor) has mobilized young people across the country, and the changing health care law has threatened to endanger people's ability to pay for life-saving care (though the tax bill's repeal of the individual mandate will raise premiums anyway). And all that is not to mention the President's alleged collusion with Russia, constant lying and misstatements, embarrassing interactions with international leaders, tumultuous turnover rates at the highest levels, the firing of the FBI director, the constant, unhinged tweeting, and much much more.
And Americans astounded by what they see are feeling obligated to do something. Twitter and Facebook are clogged with celebrities and activists urging American to contact their members of Congress, protests of unprecedented size demand participation, and the news media are constantly (and maybe rightly) sounding the alarm. It is impossible to get away from it all, and when people could once go about their daily lives without worrying about a nuclear threat from North Korea, they are now calling their congresswoman to keep their health care intact. The overload is just too much.
No matter your political affiliation, the constantly crumbling standards of public conduct and new policies borne of cronyism are exhausting to watch and fight against. And Republicans looking to keep their seats in 2018 had better take note. Americans are just tired of hearing about all of the nonsense, and with an entirely Republican government and deeply unpopular president, independent voters looking to stop the bleeding are sure to join an energetic Left in the fall. No matter one's political leanings, this government has caused political anxiety like never before: the backlash should not be underestimated.