Posted by: Mark Nielsen | October 28, 2008

Pre-Election Stress Disorder: Diagnosis & Cure

A small reminder from 1948 to be careful about what polls are saying.

A small reminder from 1948 to be careful about what polls are saying.

“In this time of introspection
On the eve of my election
I say to my reflection
‘God please spare me more rejection’
’cause my peers they criticize me
And my ex-wives all despise me
Try to put it all behind me
But my redneck past is nipping at my heels.”

“Army”, by Ben Folds Five, 1999

I was listening to Ben Folds, this generation’s Piano Man, when the lyric above slapped me in the face as a good script for John McCain right now. He’s been rejected already in 2000, he’s got Republican peers who criticicize him, an estranged ex-wife, a checkered past he’s running from (like the Keating incident, and his unqualified support of the Iraq war), and even though he’s not so much a redneck himself, his running mate Sarah Palin meets many of the qualifications.

Meanwhile, the rest of us are just losing sleep and stressing out. I say this based on somehat panicky voter interviews shown last night on The Daily Show, and call-in comments on Stephanie Miller’s progressive talk radio show this morning. I also say it based upon personal conversations with people from various backgrounds & affiliations lately. Those invested in this election (and yes, it should be all of us) are showing more signs of anxiety over its possible outcome than at any time in recent memory. We’re all keenly aware of what’s at stake, just like we’re aware of how many ways things can go wrong, either before, during, or after the election itself.

Of course, there’s always the risk of irrational thinking and behavior when fear is running so high, especially after eight years of Karl-Rovian, underhanded stirring of that pot of terror. So I was not surprised about reports of a couple of young Skinheads who were arrested yesterday and charged with planning to assassinate Barack Obama (and I use the term “plan” loosely, for they were clearly morons). I’m also probably not alone in thinking that these kinds of incidents and threats will occur at a higher frequency during an Obama presidency than in any prior presidency. When so many people have nothing to lose, and when it’s so easy to point the finger of blame, anger and violence are always a potential outcome.

Nevertheless, that’s no reason not to elect Obama, nor to stay vigilant in the months and years after this election in tackling the problems we face as a nation. I think it’s a sign that “the grown-ups” are finally stepping up, in that both campaigns are going out of their way not to play the race card, even though everyone knows it’s an issue lurking there, just under the surface. So are the wars, the aging public infrastructure, healthcare (aka the aging public people) China, Iran, Russia, and dozens of other issues that are not getting as much play as the economy in these last days of the election season. On the other hand, they’re not being ignored, either.

Democrat or Republican, if you’re stressed, if you’re losing sleep (and I am not, by the way… for like Thoreau, I “read not the Times, but the eternities”), keep a few basic things in mind and you should be fine:

  1. McCain, despite Obama’s campaign rhetoric, is pretty far toward the center as Republicans go, on many issues.
  2. Obama, though clearly “progressive”, is no leftist, either. He’s worked across party lines on many occasions, and compared to true Leftys like Dennis Kucinich, he’s practically a Republican (Obama’s readiness to compromise for the common good is mostly a strength, in a Git ‘er done sort of way).
  3. McCain, though clearly stressed and making some verbal slip-ups lately, has been forthcoming with his health records, and this tough cookie genuinely appears to be in good health. So Palin’s paltry lack of experience would probably not be an issue, at least in terms of doing the president’s job. (And on the other side, Joe Biden’s about as experienced and trustworthy as they come…)
  4. Obama is not a Muslim, nor is he a classic black politician of the Jesse Jackson persuasion, nor is he even of the generation that was entrenched in that kind of discussion about race and religion. He’s one of the most post-racial, post-nationalist politicians out there, perhaps because of his biracial and international family background.

I could go on, but I won’t. You’re a grownup. Think for yourself. Which also means don’t allow yourself to be swayed by those crafty campaign commercials.

So to cure your pre-election stress, first stop worrying. Then maybe go vote. Early voting seems to be the trendy new thing to do. Then remember it takes more than one person to make policy and run the country, anyway.

And finally, get some rest. You’re going to need it for the foreseeable future, no matter who gets elected.



  1. CNN did not even look for small business owners who honestly believe that an Obama presidency will mean laying off employees and closing their doors.
    Biden has already said he wants to reinstate the inheritance tax.
    What does that mean to minorities?
    The first generation of minority millionaires are starting to realize that when they pass away Obama/Biden will tax their inheritance and their families will have to sell their businesses in order to pay their taxes or mortgage their properties.
    The truth is that republicans have placed minorities into higher positions than democrats.
    The truth is that republicans did not form the KKK it was the democrats.
    The truth is that it was a republican president who sent us to civil war to end slavery.
    The truth is that the majority of abortion clinics are in minority neighborhoods.
    Abortion is a genecide on the minority community.
    These are facts!

  2. The New York Times wrote an article several years ago (NY Times is a democratic newspaper and was published before he ran for president) that clearly lays the blame for the financial crisis on the Democrats. By the way, the media is not independent!
    Go to the NY Times (obama friendly newspaper) to find the proof of where this whole credit crisis got started. The evidence proves Bush’s economic policies are not the only thing that caused our current economic system meltdown but rather Carter, Clinton and a Democrat majority in Congress with Democrats controlling the Chairmanship of the Committees that were charged with regulating Freddie, Fannie & Private Sector Banks were more the culprits. Obama is the champion of the Democrat Party; they hope will return the Presidency to the Party; he claims to be a Washington outsider but his party created the mess he is lying about when he blames only Republicans and the news media is helping him get away with it.
    Small business owner’s (who work their !! off ARE the middle class) are going to pay for a BIGGER tax CREDIT for people who don’t work and don’t pay taxes!!! How will they create jobs? This is the reason there are no jobs in America anymore. If Obama is elected, in my opinion, it is because we deserve him. An organization, a city, a state or a country that neglects its responsibilities either by design or neglect, deserves the kind of leadership they receive. It’s not to late to change the outcome, however we all better ask the good Lord to have mercy on us and don’t give us what we deserve.
    McCain is not perfect but the Democrats with Obama as President will destroy this country and cost working people a lot of dollars and will give more welfare! Do you know Wall Street answers to Congress but Congress only answers to uninformed sheep with help from liberal media that believes that government should solve all of our problems.
    Government is not “GOD” ! If everybody would be responsible for our selves and our family, the government won’t have to! Get 2 jobs or quit spending money. The government has to quit spending money. I’m tired of taking care of people who “won’t” work, who think they “deserve” more government handouts!! America was founded on the idea of freedom – who gave George Washington a handout? What about the Pilgrims?? Oh and by the way – Washington and the First Americans had to grow and shoot their own food! Remember what America is really about. Freedom to raise your own bar – or NOT!
    A few years back, McCain attempted to get Congress to slow down the “low income” loans because he said that it would lead to a run on the Federal Treasury but the Democrats wanted to continue the disguised welfare plan they created. DEMOCRATS INVENTED WELFARE – LET’S RAISE OUR BAR.

  3. Obama has not been forthright in telling Americans who he is, who he has been associated with, or what he will do if elected. If the media had done its job in vetting Obama from the beginning … and if 18 months ago Americans knew what they know today about Obama, he would never have made it this far. I would be willing to bet that there are still volumes that we don’t know about Obama, and even more Obama is not telling us about what he would do once elected. We also don’t know where much of his 600 million dollars in campaign contributions came from … possibly foreign nationals. Obama’s donations are literally enabling him to buy the Presidency of the United States. And then there’s Acorn, and voter fraud, which all seems to be favoring Obama. A socialistic agenda will ruin America … whose 200+ year capitalistic ideology has made us the country where everyone wants to live … even at risk of life and limb! It’s pretty obvious that McCain loves America, not just in words, but in deeds that cost him dearly. I don’t mind some changes, but changing our entire free enterprise system for socialism is NOT change I can believe in. I don’t trust Obama. I think he will say or do anything to get elected. These are just some of the reasons I’m voting for McCain/Palin on November 4th.

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