Does Stress Over Politics Mean You Need to Get a Life?
By David Henderson
On his other blog, co-blogger Scott Sumner quotes a news article as follows:
For all their sharp differences, supporters of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have one thing in common: election-related stress.
Nearly half of all likely voters in the ABC News tracking poll, 46 percent, describe the election as a source of stress in their lives, including roughly equal numbers of Clinton and Trump supporters. Nearly a quarter, again among both candidates’ camps, say the stress is serious.
Then he writes:
Wow, get a life. I wish politics were all I had to worry about.
This shows that Scott and I have very different views about the importance of politics and government in people’s lives. He appears to think that they matter very little. I think they matter a lot.
I commented on Scott’s post as follows:
I find this election stressful: one of these two awful people [Trump and Clinton] will be the next president. And I have a life. Indeed, it’s because I have a life and value life, of others and me, that I do find it stressful.
David, There are 1000s of awful things in the world. Most far more awful than this election. I can’t even imagine being stressed out by everything in the news. Yes, intellectually I know it’s important. But so is drug legalization and kidney market legalization and ending the war in Syria. But I can’t get stressed out over everything wrong in the world, or I’d go crazy. Maybe I’m just lacking in empathy, but I believe I’m not alone. The recent election of Duterte in the Philippines was much worse than Trump, in a country of 100 million people. I was disappointed, but I didn’t lose sleep over it. I’m resigned to the fact that the next president will likely be worse than Obama. But that’s a first world problem, not like Aleppo. Life goes on–the NBA season starts tonight!!
Like him, I am excited about the NBA. In fact, as I write this, I’m about to watch the Warriors play San Antonio. Go Warriors! And I think it is good to try not to stress over elections, even those that have big consequences. But Scott’s second-last sentence gets at what I was getting at with talking about how stressful the election is. Scott writes as if he thinks Aleppo had nothing to do with the election of George W. Bush and of Barack Obama. But a case can be made that Aleppo wouldn’t be in the bad shape it’s in had Bush not invaded Iraq and had Obama not destabilized Libya. The stakes in this election are huge. I don’t know which of the two awful candidates is worse. But I do know that if you are concerned about people in other countries, it’s important not to elect people who will kill them or indirectly contribute to their deaths.