This week, one of the biggest changes to happen in eight years will occur--the United States will elect a new president. And even though you've done everything you can to bring your candidate to victory, the fact remains that only one can be POTUS.
Some of you will be truly sore and deflated that your candidate lost, and threaten to move to another country or file complaints of voter fraud, but those threats are so 2000. If your candidate loses, it's time for a new set of coping mechanisms to deal with the outcome. Here's a list of 10 ways to cope with a president you didn't vote for.
1. Primal scream therapy.
Some of you may inadvertently do this on election night, but there's something incredibly therapeutic about screaming as though your life was in danger to express your frustrations. You might not want to do this in your house though, as your neighbors might be tempted to call the police. Where can you go for a good scream? Grab some friends and ride the biggest roller coaster you can find. If you need a bit more of a thrill, get some friends together and go skydiving. If you're feeling more pauper than prince, you might want to go to a deserted beach or a scary movie where you can scream comfortably. It won't change the election results, but at least you'll get your frustration out.
2. Hold a pity party.
You're allowed to wallow in your sadness for a little while, but make sure you limit it to three hours maximum with friends and fellow supporters. Any longer and the combination of sadness and booze may make it really depressing--sort of like that last breakup you went through. This is a time when you probably want to be surrounded by your friends who understand your love of your candidate, and could help you reminisce about the good times. You can...talk about the cabinet selections your candidate may have made if he were elected. You can...talk about all the reform he would have brought to Washington. You might even want to ceremoniously burn all of your candidate's bumper stickers, buttons and other paraphernalia to mourn the end of your candidate's campaign (OK, maybe just keep one for the memory box). If you're looking for something less like a séance, suggest a potluck and bring over your candidate's favorite dish (McCain loves baby-back ribs, Obama really likes sweet potato or pumpkin pie).
3. Raise the next candidate.
Why not start grooming your child for public office? It's never too early to get them thinking about big issues like Medicare or Social Security (especially since those two programs might not last the next 10 years, much less the next 50 years). Educate your kid about the economy and foreign policy. That Highlights magazine is fine for the neighbor's little genius, but it sure won't have yours ready for a debate on green energy. Get your kid a subscription to The Economist and read it together each night before he or she goes to sleep. Have your child watch at least three hours of a combination of CNN, BBC, MSNBC and Fox News and get them to run for president of their class. Sure, they may have nightmares about the end of the world, but that's a small price to pay for having your child appreciate the nuances of democracy at a young age.
In all seriousness, Nickelodeon and Scholastic have excellent election coverage and give kids an opportunity to get involved and vote at a young age. If you don't have a kid, why not focus on your niece or nephew, or your friend's kid? Their parents will be thrilled that you're taking such an interest in their future.
4. Pretend it's someone else.
Whenever you hear the winner's name, whether it's spoken by a friend, a colleague or a television anchor, pretend they're talking about your favorite movie character or an ice cream flavor. Go even further and respond as appropriate to your delusion. If someone says the new President is going to focus on creating jobs, say "It's sort of crazy that cookies and cream can improve the economy that way." Delusion is a wonderful way of spending the next four years. Some have done it for the past eight years or more! And don't let this delusion stop on Inauguration day. Keep going to the next election!
5. Find something--anything--to like about the new President.
OK, maybe you think the winner is just another untrustworthy politician who lied, cheated and stole his way to the highest office in the land, but there has to be something you like about this person that you can try to get behind. Humor yourself and do some reading up on the winner. Go to the winner's web site and start reading up on his policies. Work hard (and in some cases, really hard) to find just one issue you agree with, one character trait you find endearing, one element of that person to find interesting and remind yourself of this fact whenever you wince at the mere mention of his name. A journalist once called President John Adams a "repulsive pedant" and a "gross hypocrite," but history has now shown him to be a great leader. If you can find the good in the elected president, maybe the next four years won't be so bad after all.
6. Start a blog and become a pundit.
That DailyKos guy makes it seem so easy...and it is! If you really think you know that much more about what a President should do or how they should behave, start your own blog and critique (or give advice) to the winner. Presidents and politicians can only be made better by providing feedback, so make it your job to provide it early and often. Write down your thoughts about this President whenever they come to you, and always make sure to point out what a better job your candidate would have done in a given situation. The great thing about living in America and not liking your President is that you don't have to be quiet about it. You're free to say whatever you want about that person (within reason. Death threats are not cool) so go ahead and spew exactly why you think the next President is a joke.
7. Leave the planet.
Let's face it, America's reach is global and no matter how far you move, the elected President will have an influence on your life whether you like it or not. So look into space travel. Virgin Galactic, run by Richard Branson, is taking reservations and they only cost $200,000! That's a steal! A small price to pay to get away from the winner. Of course, Virgin Galactic doesn't have a space station or planetary outpost that you can really land on at the moment, so you could always try buying a seat on the Russian Soyuz (as videogame designer Richard Garriott did recently for $30 million) and land at the International Space Station. If your bank won't extend you the line of credit necessary to fly to the ISS or the moon, fall back on your friends with relatives in Canada. It will at least feel like you're on a different planet.
8. Move to the woods.
Grab a copy of Henry David Thoreau's Walden--his account of living in the woods for two years, two months and two days. His goal was to isolate himself from society so he could have a better understanding of it, and if you're really that upset about your candidate's loss, this might be the perspective you need. The best part of living in the woods? You won't have to deal with the hassle of filling out paperwork if you did entertain the idea of moving to another country. If you're not quite ready to give up civilization completely, maybe a weekend retreat with no TV, newspapers or internet access will help you come to grips with this loss. You might even want to institute this media blackout through the inauguration, since the reality of having this person sworn into office might be a bit too much to handle. Like Thoreau, you can write out your thoughts on life, and see where it takes you.
9. Do it yourself.
Keep in mind that countries don't change, people change. And since it takes a long time for those kids you're now coaching to grow into adept politicians, why not take matters into your own hands and commit to something you believe in? Run for local office, become an advocate for an issue you're passionate about or get involved in local after-school programs, food drives or fundraisers. You can't change the election results, but you can certainly work to change things from the ground up. Never underestimate how much you--yes, you reading this article and that guy looking over your shoulder--can do. Change doesn't happen on a large scale until individuals like you get the ball rolling on a granular level.
10. Respect the outcome.
This country was built on the belief that everyone has a voice, and (hopefully) the winning candidate won fair and square. Instead of trying to call for an investigation, threatening to leave or corrupting the minds of young people, why not appreciate the fact you live in a free country? You may not be happy with the results, but the people have spoken and like it or not, this is who was chosen. Remember why you love this country. Remember you're still free to say anything and spoof your elected officials on YouTube all you want. You dealt with Bush for eight years, and Clinton for eight years before that. You can find a way to deal with whoever is elected, respect the office of the President and live civilly as an example to others. And no matter who is elected, remember that deep down, that person has the country's best interest at heart. If this still doesn't help...the founding fathers were wise in instituting term limits, so your next chance for change is only four years away.