In less than 10 days, we'll have a new President-elect of the United States of America. Will it be Barack Obama? Will it be John McCain? Or will it be that crazy guy from your parents' neighborhood who runs every four years on a platform of "getting more salt per fry on McDonald's fries." Only time and about 8 trillion potentially faulty voting machines will tell. And though the winner of this election is clearly the most important aspect of it all, no matter what happens, we're all going to lose something: our election fever is going to come to a swift and potentially jarring end. After two years of following every moment of this Presidential circus, how are we going to handle an election-free news cycle? Luckily for the election addicts out there, Gretchen Rubin has an article up at the Huffington Post today with some tips on how to handle those post-election blues.No matter what happens on November 4th," Rubin writes, "a lot of people are going to be elated, and a lot of people are going to be dejected." This is obviously true: this election has garnered so much attention, and voters are so involved, that the emotional stakes on both sides are quite high. Dejected, however, may be too light a word; anyone who sat through the Bush/Gore and Bush/Kerry debacles can attest that "devastated" or "horrified" might be more appropriate. I'm not sure there's even a word to describe how I would feel if Sarah Palin made her way into the White House, and I'm only hoping they never have to invent one. Rubin claims that "affective forecasting," a type of positive visualization, is the key to handling the post-election blues. "It turns out that when we try to forecast our emotional state in the future," Rubin writes, "we tend to overestimate how horrible or how great we're going to feel as a consequence of a certain outcome." Rubin argues that the gloom and doom we all feel about a potential McCain presidency won't be as strong if the real thing actually occurs; things are always better or worse in our minds than in reality. But beyond the immediate reactions to the Election Day results, I'm pretty sure the majority of post-election blues will come from a disconnect from America's current favorite reality show: Presidential Campaign '08, with all of its wacky and interesting characters, its insane and unending and at times, inspiring or infuriating story lines. I am only 27 years old, but I can't think of an election in my lifetime, even the Bush/Gore mess of 2000, that spawned so much discussion between family members, co-workers, and of course, throughout the internet. It will be a strange withdrawal from the daily election cycle. In some ways, I'm sure, people are quite sick of the whole thing and can't wait until it's over. Yet when it ends, and these stories fade into the background or come back again in quieter, re-tooled versions in future political campaigns or scandals, the topic that has crossed age, race, gender, and pop-cultural boundaries will be missing, only to be replaced by stories of our new President, whoever he may be, and the potential competitors for his job in 4 short years. Perhaps the best way to handle the post-election blues is to mark your calendars for 2010. The race never really ends, it just hides for a while and comes back with a vengeance that sucks us all in. And until then, we should make it a point to continue the most important legacy of this campaign: the fact that politics has taken center stage, that the voters, especially the young voters, of this country are involved and seeking to be informed and interested in the future of America as well as the future of the rest of the world. Presidential Depression: Dealing With The Post-Election Blues [HuffingtonPost]
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