‘Away from the noise’: How Liberal Americans are coping with Election Day anxiety

In liberal America, election day caps four years of angst
Daughters of David and Rachel Roderick use a map and candidates’ pictures up on the wall to learn how the U.S. government works in Berkeley, California, U.S., August 27, 2020.
David Roderick/Handout via REUTERS

By Jane Lanhee Lee and Maria Caspani, Reuters

Rachel Richardson, a lifelong Democrat, is spending Election Day hiking trails along the Pacific Coast with her two daughters and a fellow mom with her kids in tow.

The 41-year-old Berkeley, California, native who already voted for Joe Biden said she decided to plan a three-day camping trip to stay away from minute-by-minute election news and keep anxiety over the potential reelection of President Donald Trump and the pandemic at bay.

“I think it’s now time for me to get a good night’s sleep, a few nights in the fresh, clean air with no WiFi signal anywhere in sight,” she told Reuters. “Away from the noise of people’s responses.”

Richardson and husband David Roderick spent the past months educating their children about the election and government along with about two dozen families from one of the most liberal U.S. cities while supporting candidates in key senate races.

Polls show Biden ahead nationally and in many key states, but liberal voters are worried about another upset after Trump, a former real estate developer and reality show personality, unexpectedly won the 2016 election.

“I think this time around, it’s taught us not to take anything for granted,” said Olivia Basu, 36, after casting her ballot early Tuesday morning at the Brooklyn Museum in New York City. “I’m absolutely anxious … It feels like with a pandemic and everything else there’s so much more on the line,” said Basu, who said she would try to avoid the news for the rest of the day.

Many Democrats despise Trump, whom they see as a threat to American democracy, a liar and a racist, and struggle with the president’s bombastic style and norm-shattering behavior. His supporters admire his lack of convention and what they call straight talk.

Record numbers of Americans voted early this year, leaving little to do but worry until polls close and votes are counted. To soothe their nerves, some liberals have doubled down on their pandemic-era coping mechanisms: running and exercising, yoga, meditation or writing.

Sylvia Baer, a New Jersey resident and lifelong progressive who has been quarantining in Florida, is spending the day locked away in her home office in Fort Lauderdale, writing short stories and poems.

“I think that’s the only thing that’s going to save me,” said Baer, 70. “I’m going to be writing my stories.”

A professor of American literature and a poet, Baer began writing short memoir-like stories as the coronavirus ravaged her home state and shares them on Facebook as a way of coping with the stream of dreadful news.


The presidential campaign, which pitted Republican Trump against Democrat Biden, has tested the nerves of many Americans already exhausted and grief-stricken by months of the unrelenting COVID-19 pandemic.

It also has further exacerbated the already sharp partisan divide stoked by Trump during his four years as president.

In historically Democratic Ann Arbor, Michigan, sculptor Joe Szutz mapped out his Tuesday early on in a battleground state that Trump narrowly won in 2016.

“I talked with my wife. She claims she’s going to curl up in a fetal position under the dining room table and stay there until the polls close,” said the 77-year-old Democrat, who dropped off ballots for himself, his wife and his 18-year-old daughter, voting for the first time ahead of Election Day. “My plan, since I know she will have the TV on in reality, is to make sure my Bluetooth headphones are fully charged so I can keep them blocking out both radio and TV.”

Szutz said he may work on his clay sculptures or rake leaves in his yard.

Registered Democrat Lisa Shapiro, a journalist in New York City, said she plans on journaling, meditation and sewing masks.

If all else fails to soothe her, she is not ruling out a pour of whiskey in the early evening.

Classes were canceled at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law on Tuesday, and Emily Bruce, the school’s director of equity and inclusion, is offering a 30-minute guided meditation session to cope with the anxiety many students are struggling with.

“The hope is to offer this as a tool for finding some relief from that,” she said.

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