Opinion: Obsessing over political news is unhealthy and unhelpful

While Thanksgiving dinner is worth risking high blood pressure, what happens on Capitol Hill is not.



U.S. President Donald J. Trump delivers remarks at the Values Voter Summit at the Omni Shoreham Hotel on Saturday, Oct. 12, 2019 in Washington, D.C.

Jason O'Day, Columnist

In my early 20s, I gradually became infatuated with the daily drama of national politics. By 2016, I had developed a social-media following, volunteered for Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign, and felt compelled to blog about anything and everything in the Washington realm.

I enjoyed it for awhile, but after about a year I felt drained, as I began to realize none of it affected me personally. Sometimes my mood hinged on a new Obama administration policy I didn’t like or Cruz’s performance in a given primary. At that point, it was no longer merely a passion. It was more of an obsession.

I still follow politics closely, but with less of an emotional attachment to things generally beyond my control, such as election results. I’ve been spending more time reading novels, studying history, and learning about broader policy issues. That has been much more fulfilling than scouring Twitter to get the scoop on whatever political drama is currently trending.

Mark Levin and Ben Shapiro used to be my favorite podcasters. Levin now spends the bulk of his air time defending or acting as an apologist for almost everything President Trump does. Shapiro hyper-analyzes every fleeting political development and incessantly makes rash projections about the 2020 Democratic presidential-nomination race that usually end up being wrong within a month. Their content has become so banal that it’s barely worth considering anymore.

George Will is one of my favorite columnists and published a book this year called The Conservative Sensibility. He doesn’t mention Trump once even though he loathes the president. During a podcast appearance, Will recently pointed out that the world is a fascinating place full of interesting people and that Trump is not one of them. He’s exactly right. I’m never asking myself, “What did the president bloviate about on Twitter today?” but rather, “Who cares?”

For the last 11 years, my mail has arrived on time, Interstate 80 is drivable, and America has generally been kept safe from security threats foreign and domestic. That’s all I really want and expect from the federal government.”

Trump was not my first choice for president, and Obama was pretty close to my last. That aside, for the last 11 years, my mail has arrived on time, Interstate 80 is drivable, and America has generally been kept safe from security threats foreign and domestic. That’s all I really want and expect from the federal government.

This is not to say politics is unimportant. The economy has been boosted to full employment thanks to tax cuts and deregulation. Farmers are suffering because of tariffs.

Nonetheless, Iowans and people all over this great country have so many freedoms to be thankful for. Our living standards are among the highest in the world. Most of us can choose from millions of products and have them delivered straight to our homes within two days. That said, keep in mind that there are those less fortunate among us and abroad who need our aid.

Volunteer for a campaign and stay engaged with politics in a capacity you feel is most productive, but don’t give yourself a stomach ulcer over it. Whatever is going on in your classroom, the student clubs and organizations you belong to, or your family’s Thanksgiving dinner is far more important than the spectacle of the latest impeachment hearing — that I can assure you.

In either one or five years Americans will have elected a new president, and Trump will just be another guy who used to work in an oval-shaped office. Until then, and in the years that follow, America will continue on as a free, prosperous, and civil society.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.

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