One weird trick to banish the election blues

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Here’s a little suggestion for a neat post-election mood hack! A theme that often comes up in conversations about the result is that the outcome is bad not just because Trump won, but also because of what Trump’s victory reveals about Americans. But suppose the results were flipped around. You’d probably be pretty happy or at least relieved that Clinton won, right? And you’d probably also be thinking something like, “Well, America sure has got some big problems to sort out, but things are going in the right direction and today I’m mostly going to think about how awesome it is that many millions of people made the right choice.” But given how things actually turned out, maybe you’re thinking something more like “Holy fuck, America is one sick country. Sure, a lot of people turned out to reject Trump, but today I’m mostly going to think about how awful it is that many millions of people embraced a bigot and a bully and made an absolutely terrible choice.” But the difference in outcomes was made by just a few hundred thousand votes, a tiny fraction of the total number of votes cast. Such a small difference in the number of votes cannot justify a sweeping reassessment of the country one way or another. So if it’s appropriate for you to feel overwhelmed by horror, shock, despair etc. at the actual result, then it would still be appropriate to have those feelings if Clinton had got a handful more votes and won the election. Equally, if it would have been more appropriate for you to feel an overwhelming sense of relief, optimism or elation after a narrow victory by Clinton, it’s appropriate for you to have those feelings now. But relief, optimism and elation are not appropriate under the actual circumstances, and horror, shock, and despair would not be appropriate in the event of a Clinton victory. It follows that neither of these are appropriate responses to the actual circumstances. A more balanced response is called for.

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