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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Ask Annie: I feel hopeless about politics. What should I do?

Facing a problem? Annie has answers. Ask away!

Dear Annie,

I’m feeling really hopeless about the political landscape these days. How do I calm down?

Help please,
Anxious polisci major

Dear Anxious polisci major,

Evaluate my hypothesis: studying the abstract theories behind intense national news creates a recipe for political anxiety, especially when unprecedented congressional chaos and increasingly unpopular presidential candidates burn out even the most zealous political junkies. I would be remiss to say that I know the cure, but like all stress, taking action tends to feel better than marinating in anxiety.

No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, apathy toward politics — especially while studying political science and living in the capital city — seems out of reach. National news coverage of multi-million dollar congressional and presidential campaigns can make you feel as though there’s nothing you can do to make your mark on the political landscape in an election year. It’s easier said than done, but try to focus on being proactive about what you can control. 

Volunteer for a local congressional, mayoral or school board campaign. There’s bound to be at least one crucial race almost anywhere someone lives. You can’t reverse Supreme Court rulings, but you can knock on doors for a school board candidate who won’t implement book bans at your old high school. Voters might not have fully formed opinions for local races like they do for their presidential vote. Talking with them might open them to new perspectives, or if nothing else, inform them about the race.

Maybe it’s not the individual candidates causing your stress, but the problems facing the country. If advocating for a cause is more attractive to you than fighting for a politician, help out at a national or local organization. For example, to speak up for the reproductive justice issues I personally care about, I might get involved in Planned Parenthood on a national scale or attend a DC Abortion Fund event in the District.

Or, consider avenues open to you as a GW student. The school is chock full of political groups like the College Democrats and College Republicans, which give you a chance to hear from guest speakers and take more campaign-adjacent actions like door knocking. You can also follow the long legacy of past GW students by taking to the streets of D.C. with its numerous government buildings just blocks from campus to protest the issues you feel most strongly about.

Admittedly, it can be easy to poke fun at your major of choice, but studying politics allows you to cultivate empathy and make confident, informed decisions. Pairing your education with hands-on volunteering further exposes and enables you to impact politics directly. Helping out a candidate, cause or community connects you to like-minded people, breaking through the seemingly impending doom you likely see on your social media feed. I theorize that action might quell some anxiety.

But I feel compelled to remind you that I’m just an advice columnist, as worried and confused about the world as anyone, and at a certain point, we’re all going to have to ride this out together. To quote heiress and teenage welfare advocate Paris Hilton, your reality is totally up for grabs — doing something instead of sitting still makes everything at least feel better.

And remember to vote!


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