I get it. You wake up and grab your phone or turn on the TV and there it is; whatever dumpster fire the White House is burning today. It is enough to make you want to crawl back into bed and call in smart to work. If you give a damn at all, you are probably suffering from Outrage Fatigue.
Outrage Fatigue is not just an existential crisis for the politically active, it is a real condition and, sadly, a political tactic. It becomes more relevant around peak election cycles and lingers through the early months of most new administrations.
Conservatives See It
Megan “Not-a-Liberal” McCardell writes in Bloomberg:
That’s what liberals worry about when they talk about “normalizing Trump”: that the sheer repetitiveness of his offenses against liberal democracy will make them ordinary and banal, that we will lose our ability to understand that each new outrage is, in fact, outrageous”
She goes on to say, “…liberals are right to worry, and in fact, I don’t think they worry enough. Because the biggest risk is that even if we keep shouting “This is not normal!”, voters who have heard that a thousand times before will eventually yawn and say “No, actually it is.”
Think about it. There are so many organized protests planned, that Michael Moore has published a Resistance Calendar to keep them all straight.
During the congressional recess, representatives are holding town halls to address some of the major issues that are causing the outrage. These town halls have, at times, become so politically charged that the Senate actually published a memo to advise representatives about setting up exit strategies and adding security in case they get out of hand.
The President has even tweeted about these town halls being infiltrated by liberal activists in an effort to de-legitimatize the outrage.
Who Is Driving This?
What we need to consider is the possibility that the administration is using this as a strategy to exhaust the opposition so that when real crises happen, we will be too numb to resist.
Paul Krugman addressed this recently, saying:
“What will you do when terrorists attack, or U.S. friction with some foreign power turns into a military confrontation? I don’t mean in your personal life, where you should keep calm and carry on. I mean politically. Think about it carefully: The fate of the republic may depend on your answer.
Of course, nobody knows whether there will be a shocking, 9/11-type event, or what form it might take. But surely there’s a pretty good chance that sometime over the next few years something nasty will happen — a terrorist attack on a public place, an exchange of fire in the South China Sea, something. Then what?
After 9/11, the overwhelming public response was to rally around the commander in chief. Doubts about the legitimacy of a president who lost the popular vote and was installed by a bare majority on the Supreme Court were swept aside. Unquestioning support for the man in the White House was, many Americans believed, what patriotism demanded.”
What Can We Do?
The threat to our country is certainly possible but the threat to our energy is all too real! While I would never advocate for us to back off, we do need to conserve our energy. We need to work smarter – not harder.
Instead of engaging Facebook trolls, take that angry energy and call Congress.
Instead of scrolling endlessly through social media and news sites, join a local organization that is doing something positive.
Instead of arguing with friends and family, take a moment to hear what they have to say because they may give you the missing piece; the one that revitalizes you.
Most importantly, find a support system that is willing to take turns with the torch so that our fire doesn’t just burn out.