Keeping your cool this fall

DON”T JUST argue in the street. Educate your self and speak your voice as you vote. There’s a reason why they call it a “secret ballot” (Pexels/Rosemary Ketchum).

If you’re like me, you are looking forward to the Nov. 3 election with a mix of excitement and trepidation. It promises to be one of the most hard-fought and emotional presidential elections in our lifetimes, which means it’s going to be one of the most difficult for many of us to get through without going – what’s the technical term? – bat-spit crazy.

If you’re a red kind of voter, you are hoping to extend Mr. Trump’s reign in office with specific goals of transforming the U.S. Supreme Court into a conservative body, and rolling back everything Barack Obama did.

If you’re a blue kind of voter, you’re hoping to end Mr. Trump’s tenure in office with specific goals of transforming the U.S. Supreme Court into a liberal body and rolling back everything Donald Trump did.

But how do you survive the next three months or so without making a lot of friends into enemies, saying the wrong thing to the wrong person and in general remain a reasonable person in a time when shrill emotions are likely to rule the day?

Here are Retorts’ LifeHacks for the 2020 Campaign.

  • Stay Off Social Media: I figured I would start with the toughest one. If you pay too close attention to what your friends and relatives post during this super-heated period we are about to enter, you may end up thinking that some of your friends and relatives are … uh … nuts. It’s not usually what they write, but rather it’s the memes and “news stories” they post which seem to originate in the low-rent side of The Twilight Zone. If you cannot avert your eyes from Facebook, you’re in for a grim fall. At the very least, look at the screen while you’re also folding laundry or shaving. It’s like staring at the sun; do it for more than a few seconds at a time and you’ll go blind from sheer mendacity overload.
  • Practice Your Non-Committals: Let’s say someone you like (or even desire) is sitting across from you at a lovely al fresco restaurant in Huntington Beach or Garden Grove. You’re having just a great time and he or she leans forward and says, “Did you know that [Trump/Biden] beats his wife and French kisses his dog?” There really is no good answer to that. You can’t, in good conscience, go along with it. So you go to your non-coms. My favorite is: “Amazing. Just amazing.” The other person will likely think you are buying that load of applesauce, while what you are actually thinking is “It’s amazing that person could say such a stupid thing and expect me to ever respect them again.”
  • Timely Interruptions: Your pal or sister-in-law pulls up in a car with a big-bright bumper sticker proclaiming, “Vote For [The Guy You Hate].” In preparation for what’s sure to follow, you arrange the salt, pepper and that little container of color-coordinated fake sugars strategically on your table. When Mr. or Ms. Blowhard starts to tell you that Mike Pence or Kamala Harris and spouses are double-dating with Satan and his wife, Satanna, you start nodding with fake interest, lean forward and knock over the salt. You apologize, start fussily cleaning up, and your dinner guest starts all over again. You let him/her go on for another 11 seconds, and then drop your napkin on the floor. You bend over and spend a good 20 seconds finding it and returning it to your tabletop. The story starts again and … whoops! There goes your glass of water! In your mind, you are saying to yourself, “I can keep this up as long as it takes.”

Yes, this is all very passive-aggressive. But in the absence of any tiny particle of evidence that it’s possible to change anyone’s mind about politics, I say, keep your smile on, keep your mouth shut and make your argument when you vote. Save the country and avoid an ulcer.

Jim Tortolano’s Retorts is posted each week, usually on Wednesday. 

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