The Case Against Apathy
As the days pass and the Trump administration digs its heels deeper into the American psyche, it can be tempting to tune out from the Republican noise. Tuning out can certainly be healthy every once in awhile, and taking a day off from politics in order to heal one’s frame of mind is a good way to recharge. But make no mistake – apathy is dangerous. As I was reminded this morning when I sighed at an article titled “Donald Trump’s Presidency is an Assault on Women,” it is vital, now more than ever, that we recognise the signs of numbness towards and disinterest in the Trump presidency. Choosing to sit on the sidelines of perhaps the most important political moments of our generation errs dangerously on the side of wilful ignorance. We must collectively resist the urge to back down, and we must be dedicated to using our voices and our platforms, no matter how downtrodden we may inevitably feel. During the election, I became sick of Donald Trump, and understandably so. I felt his blunders and mistakes were overshadowing the true essence of what an election is meant to be about – policy, strategy, history, and qualifications. After a while, I even became tired of articles chastising Trump. Repetitive criticism of Trump was beginning to overshadow the competency of Hillary Clinton; it seemed like common sense to me to criticize his incompetence and idiocy, so why did the media feel the need to continually remind us of it? Reminiscent of pouring salt into a wound, being constantly reminded of the man who was destroying everything I felt was most important about America was exhausting and painful. Waking up every day to a new disaster was taking a toll on my mental health and, perhaps more disastrously, was eroding my interest in taking a stand against Trumpism. With each day bringing new challenges, I began to wonder if my worst fears were inevitable and my efforts were simply futile.
As I felt myself becoming distanced from politics, I encountered disinterest of a different type: intentional apathy toward the election. Scattered across my social media platforms were posts stating that we should set politics aside, end our arguments, and come together despite our differences. Others positioned friendships and family ties above political viewpoints, insisting that these relationships were more important than petty politics of the moment. While I do agree that some relationships are more valuable than viewpoints, I disagree strongly that we should just shrug our shoulders around the dinner table and avoid difficult topics. This creates an atmosphere of denial at worst and ignorance at best. Healthy conversation is vital to democratic participation, and if we deny ourselves the opportunity to discuss our disagreements in order to remain neutral, we will inevitably fail to take a stand when it matters most.
Suffering from political fatigue is not uncommon, but it can be dangerous in large doses. It is imperative that we stand firm and continue to read the articles even when the material is repetitive because the points need to be continually driven home. We must be reminded, even when it’s difficult – perhaps especially when it’s difficult – that giving up is what this administration wants us to do. It wants us to grow weary and tired of reading about women’s issues, because clearly Donald Trump can grope women and get away with it. It wants us to end our conversations with friends and relatives, because in the end maintaining potentially unhealthy relationships is more important than taking a stand. It wants us to think politics are uncool or annoying because that way, we won’t involve ourselves any longer. Take a rest day if necessary, but we must remember that giving up is not an option. Resisting in any way is good enough, whether it’s retweeting a powerful thread, writing a Facebook post, attending a protest, or even running for office. The smallest steps do make a difference, both in the grand scheme of things and in your own political universe.