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Maybe you talk about politics. Maybe you don't.
Either way, we have 86 days to go until Election Day and now that the presidential and vice presidential tickets for both parties are set, it's going to be a long, hard slog.
How to survive in Washington, DC and remain hopeful that everyday conversation can remain civil?
It is possible. Vent while you're putting your make-up on, while you're taking a shower, while you're walking around the house.
Or don't get sucked into negative energy. One positive and healing action I have been following over the past few weeks is boycotting the local and national morning television programs. I look forward to watching the 7 pm evening news but I am doing my bit for energy conservation by not turning on the television in the morning. It has become a wasteland.
If I want to find out about the weather or traffic before I leave for work, I go on the internet and look it up. The majority of stories that air in the morning are not news stories -- the celebrity drivel is off the charts -- and half the time I'm not even sure that the reporting is accurate. It's the same stuff over and over again because the television stations need to fill air time.
So let them fill it. I'm just not watching and OMG my outlook on the upcoming day is now so much calmer.
The issue of staying hopeful during these times is also addressed in September 2012's Oprah magazine and Donna Brazile, a weekly contributor and political commentator on CNN's The Situation Room, wrote the following insightful piece:
How Can I Stay Hopeful?
If the nightly news makes you want to ditch civilization and move to a desert island, you're not alone. Here's how Donna Brazile keeps engaged.
Ten years ago, I was hired by CNN as a pundit, bloviator, spin master -- and those are just the nicer names for what I do. It was an incredible opportunity for someone like me, who enjoys the political process -- but it came with certain risks to the soul. News shows are often formatted like gladiator battles: The Democrat goes "head-to-head" with the Republican; we "faceoff"; one person "slams" the other. I've been called a racist because I support affirmative action; I've been called a bad Catholic because I believe in birth control. At the same time, I'm supposed to vilify the opposing side.
I often get depressed by this political environment. We're inundated with stories about congressional gridlock and a deeply divided public, all the while the planet overheats, unhinged dictators in the Middle East run amok, and the economy goes off the rails. Like many Americans, I've sometimes doubted the functioning of our government. Take the night the U.S. Supreme Court ended the vote count in Florida during the 2000 presidential election, or that horrifying period after Hurricane Katrina when I could not get anybody at FEMA on the phone to help me locate my missing disabled sister.
But ultimately, I don't have the luxury of tuning out. Instead, I think of my mother, who taught me to find the good in every person and situation. She never let us lose hope -- and she always made sure we believed Santa Claus would come, no matter how dirt-poor we were.
She's the reason I've spent my free time this summer looking for nice things to say about Mitt Romney, even though I don't plan to vote for him (for starters, he's an honorable, decent and loving father who obviously cares deeply about this country). When I feel myself getting steamed up over an issue, it really does help to remember the rich humanity of my so-called opponents -- even one as formidable as former Bush advisor Karl Rove. Competing against him was blood sport -- and yet he and I have great rapport. We discovered early on that we share a love of history. Karl doesn't just know dates and facts; he can tell you what people were eating, drinking and thinking in 1896 -- and he's always sending me books by Joseph Ellis. He's proof that it's possible to disagree with someone on just about everything but still respect them.
Of course, I don't look for the good in others just on the campaign trail. I see it in the policeman on the beat who's there when I am walking home late at night, and the air-traffic controllers who make sure the plane lands safely (I don't know who these people are, but I'm always praying for them). It may not be easy to believe in government, but I can certainly believe in the postal worker who tucks my mail neatly into my box so it won't get wet when I'm traveling.
It's people, not politicians, who make this country what it is. When I look around me, I can't help having faith.