Johanna Miller, Nov. 2: A bad case of election fatigue


By JOHANNA MILLER

A few blocks from my house, there is a residence that has become well-known in the neighborhood for its extensive Halloween and Día de los Muertos decorations every year.

And this year was no exception. Ghosts hung from the trees, skeletons were placed meticulously through the yard and a traditional altar is still set up on the house’s steps.

But one thing is different this time: election signs. Election signs everywhere.

And it’s not just this house — in fact, the entire block has been covered in them for weeks. Red, white and blue drowned out the seasonal orange, black and purple; was this Halloween or the Fourth of July?

In all my adult years, I don’t think I have ever experienced such an intense, exhausting midterm election. I’ve never felt so annoyed when driving out of Watsonville and seeing an entire hillside covered in signs.

My mom, a yoga teacher, had a student Monday morning who was visiting the area to see family. She said she mailed her ballot in early and intentionally planned to fly back to her home state of Florida on election day so she wouldn’t have to deal with any of it.

Listen, voting is the sign of a true democracy. Being able to voice your opinion and create real change — these things are the foundation of a democratic system. I am a true believer in getting out to vote. Encouraging young people especially to participate is vital.

So why has this election season been so unpleasant?

It might be a combination of factors — from the confusing propositions to the brutal campaign ads. Arguments between friends over politics. Being screamed at by politicians in the middle of watching cute cat videos on YouTube.

Or maybe it’s because we see elections that seem to be rigged and candidates who are embroiled in controversy. We pass important laws under one administration only to have them reversed in the next. We move forward only to be pushed back once again.

It’s disheartening.

How can we improve things? How can we once again leave the polling place feeling positive and proud instead of tired and relieved that it’s over?

There has been a huge push to encourage voting this time around — more than I’ve ever seen for midterm elections. And of course it’s important. We should all go vote. It’s essential.

But I can’t think of one person I’ve talked to about this year’s elections who hasn’t expressed distaste and eagerness for it to end.

Maybe this is what comes with our democracy. We are lucky enough to be able to vote, so maybe this is just what we have to deal with in exchange.

But does it have to be this way? Can’t we find ways to discuss issues in a more civil manner? Improve the voting system itself? Put a capper on how much candidates can spend? Make a law on how many campaign signs can be placed within a certain area? (OK, maybe not that last one — but I can dream.)

So, get out and vote. Make your voice heard, etc. But don’t feel ashamed for being exhausted and glad it’s over. Most of us are right there with you.

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Johanna Miller can be reached at 761-7303 or [email protected]

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