By Ashley Frechette
We live in an age of a 24-hour news cycle, something much different than the eras before us. Between endless news channels, commentators, and social media, it is almost impossible to unplug from it all.
Over the last few days, I found myself on a much needed social media hiatus of anything heavy. Cute animal videos? Absolutely. Thai cave rescue? There was hope there. Politics? No. Definitely not.
Social media exhaustion and political exhaustion are real. With the heated battle of the midterms drawing closer – it is incredibly easy to become overwhelmed and fatigued with everything happening in the news and dwelling over comments made on social media or the news.
The midterm battle cannot and will not be won by slinging mud around, or giving false videos and narratives in political advertisements. It will not be won attacking constituents. The gubernatorial race last year is a prime example — scare campaigns and smear tactics do not work. And this is not party-exclusive rules — this is to everyone fighting this battle.
Instead of focusing on the past and negativity, we need to focus on the future. Talking about policy, asking candidates where they stand on issues important to us, and cutting out the negatives are ways to do this. If a candidate is elected solely on their ability to be hateful, nothing will change once in office – it merely gives them a larger stage. If you do not do the research to find out where a candidate stands on an issue close to your heart, you cannot be surprised later that it does not align completely with yours.
In order to find where they stand, the hard questions must be asked. Ask questions about policy, drill them on their positions, and if you are not satisfied with their answer, repeat the question. Keep things civil, stay calm, do not react to tactics designed to draw anger and emotion. Call your representatives or candidates office to get clarification on their policies.. Attend town halls and open debates, ask questions whenever you can.
If you find yourself at a town hall being talked over by a candidate try this method: If you are interrupted, simply stop talking. Don’t listen to anything they say and do not react. When they are done speaking tell them that you were not done and start from the beginning. If they do it again, repeat the process. If you are interrupted for a third time, end the conversation.
Politicians have a way of talking in circles and never actually answering the question at hand, instead they answer the question they WANT to answer. Listen closely at the next debate. What do you hear? The answer to the question being asked? Or do you hear something different? If your answer is the latter, be concerned.
Michelle Obama said it best: when they go low, we go high. Take the high ground. Civility has been lost in politics as of late. It’s time to say enough to the nonsense and smear campaigns.
We are in for a long fight in Virginia’s 7th district. Abigail Spanberger is running a campaign that is admirable. She stays calm, does not react to rude comments made, and does not attack her opponent or his voters. Her social media posts include events, her thoughts on policies, and sharing articles she finds interesting.
Abigail has practiced civility, patience, and integrity, working to unify not only the party she is the candidate for, but the whole district. That’s a lot more than most in office can say. When you represent a district, you do not only represent those that agree with you, rather every citizen in that district.