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How to Survive an Election

I encourage everyone to figure out a system or plan that gives you space and time to process the issues and not get burned out

By Maggie Doherty

How to survive an election year without losing your mind and saving democracy in five easy steps.

Alas, I’m joking. Five easy steps? It might not be as simple as a five-step program, but now that 2024 is here, it’s important to acknowledge the stress of the election year cycle and think about ways to be an engaged and informed voter without it being so stressful that you huck your phone into the Flathead River and stop watching or reading the news. Those are three steps I don’t suggest.

What feels like a never-ending election and campaign season, this year is big and important, and it can be hard not to get fatigued by all the campaign messaging and understand the candidates and issues on the ballot from the federal down to the local level. We live in a great nation that allows for citizen engagement. But that means we have to participate, and I encourage everyone to figure out a system or plan that gives you space and time to process the issues and not get burned out. Or worse, decide not to vote.

Whether you’re someone who loves to knock on doors to talk about the candidate issue you support or you tend to ignore everything until Election Day in November, it’s good to check in with yourself and figure out now, 11 months before you vote, what your concerns are, and how you might better inform yourself. Consider where you source your political news and information – is it a verified news service or does it come from less trusted sources? Do you consume too much and how do you access your news? In recent months, I’ve had to evaluate my sources and media devices, knowing that as much as I love the news and have since my high school days when I thought I’d be Sports Illustrated’s next Rick Reilly, I can go overboard. I can spend a lot of time online, reading through my favorite news and social media sites, and now I’m trying to be more mindful about my consumption, like remembering my childhood when I’d watch Peter Jennings on ABC News. Instead of constantly scrolling on my phone, I tell myself that listening to public radio in the morning, a midday online check-in, and an evening news update is enough.

I love to talk politics with my friends and family. I’m working on keeping those conversations even-tempered (even if I agree with them) and fact and solution-based. I also make time to attend events where candidates are present and find meaningful opportunities to be well informed on local and state issues.

No doubt, I’ll be stressed and stay up too late some nights with the news. It’ll happen. But I’m planning now to reduce that tension and feel like I can fully engage with the election process. Democracy is like tug of war – it requires both candidates and voters to pull or else the rope falls. So let’s give it a good tug in 2024.

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