Electoral Fatigue:<br />
Are You Already Experiencing Political Burnout?

Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

It usually sets in much later, but my election fatigue has set in already. It’s that feeling that you have when you’ve been inundated with television ads, robo calls, and emails requesting donations for a candidate, be it your candidate or maybe someone you’ve never heard of and will never hear from again after November 6th. Some mornings, I want to rise and fast forward past Election Day to find peace. I don’t think I’m alone in this and it may be due to a twenty-four hour news cycle and social media inundation.

Could it be that our hyper-connectivity is leading folks to disengage from politics?

To be fair, I am not an electoral politics fan or stan. While I am very much interested in policy and the way that government affects the life chances of people, but analysis of exit polls, convention speeches, and watching the electoral votes come in turns my stomach. The 2008 election was so phenomenal because we saw a leveraging of the Internet, particularly social media, crowd sourcing, and the turnout of people across a broad spectrum. However in 2012, this same approach has not sparked my inner politico. Instead, I think of responding to Barack Obama’s emails as informally as he messages me every single day:

            Hey Barack,

            I’m glad you recognize times are hard. I know you need my support. I don’t think Romney is a good choice for this country but I need you to have a little more discretion with your emails. I’m tired man!

            I kind of feel like I gave my number to the wrong person at the club and now they’re calling incessantly or that I gave my number to a religious zealot who won’t stop inviting me to their house of worship or that I just inherited a Velcro-friend. You know what a Velcro-friend is? It’s that person who apparently has driven away all previous friends and then latches onto you, won’t exit quietly, and tells you that you’re their best friends a week into knowing them. Yeah...don’t be that guy!

          So how about this, if I give to your campaign will you agree to not contact me until after it’s all done. Deal? It’s not you, it’s me. I’m just not that into political pandering these days.

           Until November 7th,                                                               

            L’Heureux

           PS: Tell Michelle I said hi. I always open her messages, but I’m beginning to think she’s not really writing those emails.

But it’s not just fundraising driving me mad, it’s also the “everybody is an analyst” dilemma. I’m admittedly biased because I know a bevy of talented political scientists and policy wonks who deal with issues of race, elections, policy and opportunity. Instead, I get inundated with the folks who annoyed me in college in my Political Science classes. You know, the dude who only speaks to the professor because he thinks they’re peers and he should be teaching the class but doesn’t realize he’s not saying anything new or listening to others? I don’t know what qualifies someone as an analyst or strategist but I’m beginning to think it’s three factors: 1) has a pulse, 2) has an opinion, and 2) only listens to her/his opinion. I like to be moved by arguments, not browbeat by them.

It’s only September and my electoral fatigue is weighing heavy. I understand that elections are important. I understand that we demand more and more information daily but we’ve got to realize that sometimes “enough is enough.” As the days wind down to the election, I hope that those who are fatigued like me aren’t thought of as apathetic or not committed to social change. Instead, sometimes it’s just a case of having to tune out now so we can turn out in November.

Dr. R. L'Heureux Lewis-McCoy is an Assistant Professor of Sociology and Black Studies at the City College of New York- CUNY. His work concentrates on race, education and gender. You can follow him on Twitter at @dumilewis or visit his official website