8 reasons I rarely blog about politics

By Caitlin Kelly

IMG_20160616_134045187_HDR (5)

 

Some of you follow the news avidly,  aware that there is tremendous racial division in the United States. and that a 32-year-old activist named Heather Heyer was killed this week by a car driven into a crowd of protestors in Charlottesville.

Some of you may wonder why I haven’t added my voice to the chorus of outrage and fury at the growth of what some call the alt-right, what others call Nazism.

Don’t I care?

Yes, very much, but…

 

  1. Some of you, including me, are simply worn out from only six chaotic months of the Presidency of Donald Trump, a man for years before his election well known to New York residents like me to be a man who routinely lies and cheats, who bullies and shames everyone he considers an opponent. Much as I loathe this man and all he stands for, I’m not the least bit surprised by anything he now says or does — or fails to do. If you knew Trump then — and millions did not — little of this comes as a shock.

 

 

2. As someone who has also lived in France, Canada, Mexico and England, I don’t view the Presidency with the same awe and reverence as many Americans do. It’s not a matter of disrespect; I chose to move to the U.S. and am grateful for what that choice brought me — a fulfilling career, a home I love and a marriage I treasure. But other political systems are less rigid and most hold their elected leaders in much less regard. My greatest frustration with this Presidency is how utterly impotent his opponents, in and out of office, seem to be,

 

 

img_20160928_183329860

 

3. My husband, in his capacity as a New York Times photographer, spent eight years in the White House Press Corps — photographing Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He’s flown aboard Air Force One and stepped into the Oval Office, the President’s domain. (He took me there as well.) He’s covered campaigns, heard the speeches and witnessed some backroom behavior no one else has. There’s little mystery to us about this man, or his actions, or the Republicans who turn their gaze away from his chicanery, He’s seen it all up close before.

 

4. Because I feel worn out by living under this Administration, I avoid mentioning POTUS’ name. I mute his voice on the television. Daily exposure to him, for me, is just too enervating. In my six weeks traveling through Europe, itself a luxurious escape, I avoided all conversation about him as well.

Really, what is there to add?

 

5. Like me, many of Broadside’s readers —  no matter how much you might also care about American politics — you either live very far away, (as many of you do), can’t vote in the U.S., (I have a green card, so that’s my situation), or just crave a break from it all.

 

6. If you’re as active as I am on social media, (i.e. Facebook and Twitter, especially, possibly Reddit for some of you), you’re already bombarded there by outrage and fury and dismay and face-palming, some of it hourly. I want this blog to be something of a respite from that — for you and for me.

 

7. I was recently interviewed for Maclean’s magazine, Canada’s national magazine of current affairs, by another Canadian journalist who lives and works in New York, Chris Taylor. His relief from this daily insanity is escaping into books, and, for him, the classics. I’ve begun reading books more than ever again, fleeing the radio and television and endless endless chatter. Here’s the Maclean’s piece.

 

8. I work full-time as a journalist and writing coach. In my ongoing capacity as a journalist, and someone who writes frequently for The New York Times, it’s not helpful to be seen as a wild-eyed partisan, no matter my personal feelings. American journalists are expected to be impartial in our reporting.

23 thoughts on “8 reasons I rarely blog about politics

  1. It’s funny Caitlin, I don’t see you as a wild eyed partisan.In times like these I see you as someone calm enough to burrow deep enough into a story to get to the truth and then report it.
    In Europe we get the highlights of the very charming POTUS’s actions albeit Tweet of the day but we very often don’t know what the effect of his latest autograph is going to be on the people of the US.
    We know the man he’s put in charge of the Environment Agency isn’t a scientist and disbelieves Global Warming but we don’t actually hear what he’s doing. I hear Trump finally spoke out against the violence of the weekend but I can’t gauge how honest it was since he seemed to support all the alt-right and white supremacists since the start of his reign of terror.
    You are one of the few people there I could trust to tell me these things because as a Canadian and because you’ve seen the Canadian PM’s response to Mr. T you can probably do this with the clarity probably lacking in a native at the moment.
    But, I honour your decision not to do these things because of the work you do there and also because I believe Trump could decide to revenge himself against reporters at some stage.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

    1. Thanks, David.

      I assume (?) that anyone REALLY eager to learn more — and there is no lack of coverage of POTUS — can roam around multiple news sites. The FT, I think, does a smart job of this, as does the (Trump-loathing) New York Times. The Washington Post is also worth a look, although you might have to subscribe to it.

      Frankly, no matter what anyone writes or says about this situation….there is SO much we don’t know and no one is reporting or able to report. Like how many MILLIONS of $$$$ are flowing into Trump’s pockets, and Kushner’s and Ivanka’s, through all their global businesses. I’m unaware of any previous Administration that has so shamelessly — and opaquely — managed to line its pockets in this fashion.

      I also wonder why (!?) no one has found a mole within the IRS to leak Trump’s hidden tax returns.

      There are many many many things even avid American readers don’t know and want to.

  2. i understand all of this, caitlin. especially in your role as a credible and informed journalist. i sometimes have a hard time not taking action in whatever way i can, protesting, writing about it in a non-threatening way, and discussing it with others. i am not a position where people look to me for my words, and therefore don’t feel the same pressures. other than my kinders, and my family, who i try to teach by example and encourage to practice compassion, kindness, honesty, and empathy in all they do and say. like you, it all gets to be too much for me at times, and i need to withdraw and settle into more comforting and calming pursuits.

    1. I’m not on staff, so not officially constrained — but the NYT has a very long ethics code and if some readers associate your work with their name…

      I admit, I do RT and tweet my displeasure, so am not wholly silent and impartial. But I try to avoid it as well.

      It’s a challenge to find some balance between outrage/activism and burnout.

  3. All great reasons and I fully echo every one. Even far from the front lines here in France, it seems every newsfeed and timeline is dominated by U.S. politics, each display of POTUS more absurd and outrageous than the last but as you point out, what else can one expect of such a man? While not a journalist I do write for a living and politics make strange bedfellows…as for escaping to books, no change there. Always been my refuge of choice.

    1. It’s nuts…there are many, many other important stories to know about (which is one reason I listen to BBC, read the FT daily, and follow French, Canadian and British press on Twitter).

      I’m worn out with endless analysis/coverage of Trump. Until there is meaningful and effective action to seriously curtail or remove him from power….it’s just endless data and opinions.

      I can only (seriously) keep my blood pressure down by staying out of the fray. My liberal friends are shouting every day on every form of social media to DO SOMETHING — posting phone numbers and emails of their elected officials. If I actually saw any RESULTS of this, I’d be more compelled to join them. I don’t.

  4. I think he is trying to normalize his outrageous and immoral behaviour. People get so used to it they ignore it or are numbed by it. There really isn’t a lot of coverage about how rich he is getting from his presidency.

    I’ve found lately needing a break from the US politics.

    1. It’s a full-time job for him to keep justifying himself as blameless and 100% right. It’s pretty pathetic but that’s what he wants and needs to do to keep his supporters happy — he already has the lowest approval rating in years, 34% — but that’s still a third of Americans.

      Yes, indeed.

      1. I watched parts of his press conference this afternoon. I really don’t have any words to describe his blatant support of the alt right and the lies coming out of his mouth.

      2. I know. I agree.

        Speaking more personally, I’m appalled at his blatant contempt for working journalists — referring to them on camera as “fake news”. How dare he? How fucking dare he?

        This country is headed for the toilet and no one in power seems to care. How wonderful.

  5. I agree about writing political posts and why you don’t do it. Frankly, I don’t because I’m just too behind on what’s going on and have nothing really to say (and definitely not enough information to speak intelligently on it). I’ll ask questions on other blogs, or throw a few out on my own blogs (usually much later, when I’ve had time to think), but yes, Dump is just too exhausting to tackle on a daily basis. I’ve avoided the 24 hour news cycle, I mute his voice when I can, because I feel my blood pressure go up just out of reflex. Not everything done is newsworthy, and most of it is shameful–why we keep giving this person so much attention–when that’s what he wants most–is beyond me.

    1. The sad truth is he has incredible power — which is why (even if we don’t want to) — we are unwise to ignore him and his behavior. Better to know than not know.

      But I limit my exposure to it the way I limit my exposure to anything I deem toxic.

      1. Yeah, I just can’t stand walking on egg shells around my own house because if he’s on, there will be discussion, and then fighting. I’m already too close to getting ulcers and that’s the last thing I need. Keep quietly informed and mull it over…at least, that’s what’s working for me so far. I just get annoyed how he can let out a fart and it makes the 24 hour news cycle… standards would be nice.

      2. Wow. That’s…disturbing. Probably not unusual now in many households, though.

        My husband and I are in 100% agreement, even so far as discussing when or if we’ll move to Canada (where I am from.) I’m in no rush to leave NY but this shit is insane — and if 45 gets re-elected, I can’t see staying, I can barely imagine 3.5 more years of this.

        And I agree about “news” — I’m as appalled by its addiction to clicks and ratings as you are.

  6. I read this with mixed feelings. I am not nor have I ever been resident in the US though we in the Caribbean visit often, are inundated with American media, and have relatives and friends who live there. Different societies but a lot hits close to home – in part because of America’s reach and influence. I was disappointed in the media coverage esp. the non-critical wall to wall coverage he received (still can’t say his name); they played it for entertainment value and money (ratings, advertising) and I feel the public lost. Clearly I’ m not a fan but then I wasn’t even before he came down that escalator to disparage a whole country and culture. I tuned out after November (self-care, the rhetoric against women and people of colour, and ‘other’ resonated with/against me… and that so many people bought in to it was…disappointing, infuriating, but perhaps should not have been as surprising as it was). These days, I keep up mostly through the satirists (because they picked up the ball the media dropped throughout the campaign and reported and critiqued with amazing clarity and incisiveness…and because laughter really is the best medicine). I don’t watch traditional news like I used to (which given my profession – I too freelance as a writer and journalist, editor and writing coach – is not ideal) and understand the need to have spaces where it’s not about politics… even as part of me insists that now is the time we must write. This is something I try to balance in myself as I think about the other times in history when between the extremes were the people going about their lives and among them resisting in whatever small way they could. All we can do, I suppose is speak when the cost of keeping silent is greater and each of us has to decide when and on what platform and in what ways that is for ourselves. There is more than one way. Sorry this ran so long, was thinking out loud; I appreciate your reflection on this issue. p.s. you didn’t have to live in NY to see who he was (I did) but I imagine the upclose view made this whole thing more mind-boggling.

    1. Thanks!

      This is so thoughtful..lots to think about.

      I keep trying to see this insane period through a historical (not hysterical!) lens, i.e. how will historians describe it 10, 20 50 years from now (assuming there even is a functioning planet by then.)

      Getting caught up every day in the DRAAAAAAAMA is not helpful to me. Maybe to others.

  7. Yeah, I tend to stay away from the politics too these days. I used to be much more into calling out hypocrisy and just horrible behavior in politics, but these days I just don’t want to deal with the hysterical people who will inevitably find my posts and freak out that I dare voice an opinion contrary to theirs. They don’t scare me, they’re just assholes, and I make it a point to avoid assholes if I can.
    Not only that, but the organization I work for kind of discourages politial talk, based on some of the work we do, and I like my job.
    However, I may pound out a post this weekend on Charlottesville, though that’s less a political issue and more of a human issue, in my eyes.

  8. Wise thoughts right now. Depending on the day, I get so worn out, worked up, enraged, apathetic, or insert almost every other human emotion here as to be drained. Trying to figure how to stay informed, up to date, and not go crazy…

    1. Thanks.

      Some people may find my position (which is fine with me) apathetic or detached — partly because journalism often demands that — but it’s for my own sanity.

      I see so many of my friends (and I admire their/your passion) losing their cool every single day, and I’m not at all sure what it is going to do to produce CHANGE.

      Unless they can run for office in 2018 and win (or help a Democrat win)…what is there that will rid us of this appalling excuse for a President, or radically shift the balance of power?!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s