WINDSOR TERRACE — As Donald Trump and Joe Biden scramble to win over undecided voters in the last days of the campaign, some people are just exhausted from all of the political rhetoric and are looking for an exit ramp.
Voters in the Diocese of Brooklyn told The Tablet that election fatigue has set in.
“I do just want it to be over with,” said Brianne Ratka, youth minister at St. Finbar Church, Bath Beach.
The campaign’s nasty tone and the accusations flying back and forth between Trump and Biden have discouraged Ratka.
“I’m not a politics person. I’m an issues person. I want to see solutions,” she said. “I’m not hearing anything like that because they’re too busy attacking each other.”
The second and final debate between the two men on Oct. 22 featured personal attacks, along with Trump’s accusations that Biden has made money off of China and sniping from Biden that Trump hasn’t released his tax returns. The candidates also clashed on COVID-19, with Biden accusing Trump of botching the federal response and Trump charging that Biden would close down cities and imperil the economy.
Fred Bedell, the grand knight of the St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus, Douglaston Council #5911, said the campaign has made him angry.
“What really ticks me off is that the two of them keep knocking each other,” he said. “What are they going to do about things like Social Security and Medicare? It’s like they’re not even talking to us.”
The long campaign season may finally be winding down, but it’s not a minute too soon, as far as Peter Damour is concerned.
“It feels like it just goes on and on,” said Damour, youth minister at St. Clare’s Church, Rosedale. “The rhetoric is too much.”
While voters can’t wait for Election Day to be over, it’s not clear that the race will end on Nov. 3. With mail-in ballots set to be counted after Election Day and with likely court challenges, it could be days, even weeks, before a winner is declared.
Election fatigue is tied to COVID-19, according to Dr. Miguel Martinez-Saenz, president of St. Francis College.
“People had to spend months working from home. They’re more plugged in than ever. They’re consuming more social media and watching more television,” he said. “The COVID piece of this is exacerbating everything.”
In July, a survey by the Pew Research Center found that 55 percent of social media users feel worn out by the political posts they are reading on sites like Twitter and Facebook.
“This has been an abnormal election cycle with COVID,” said Brian Kaszuba, associate director for the Center for NYC Law at New York Law School. “People are mostly concerned with getting back to work and if their children’s schools are reopening.”
Damour also pointed to COVID-19 as a factor. “We’re dealing with COVID and the election. It’s tiring,” he said.
The vitriol between Trump and Biden isn’t helping, Kaszuba said. “This type of negativity is not what the country needs. People are just numb to everything that’s going on,” he said.
Another Pew survey conducted in August, however, found a high level of voter engagement. The vast majority, 83 percent, told researchers it matters to them who wins the presidency. The same survey found that nearly half of voters, 49 percent, expect to have difficulty casting a ballot — a sentiment that adds to the stress people feel.
Nastiness in presidential campaigns is nothing new, Martinez-Saenz said. “The last election cycle was pretty nightmarish too. The theater of politics has been in place for some time,” he said.
As worn out as voters feel, they should remember the sacrifices made by previous generations to secure the right to vote, Martinez-Saenz said.
“I often think of the Freedom Riders who traveled to the South in the 1960s to register people to vote. They were met with threats and violence. That’s exhausting,” he said.
Patricia Carlucci, president of the Parish Pastoral Council at St. Finbar Church, said the media is dropping the ball in its coverage.
“I’m frustrated that there’s no dialogue to explore the differences in policy between the two of them. The media just wants to give us sound bites,” she said. “And everything is so dramatized, it’s ridiculous.”
“Each side tries to make you feel like it’s the end of the world if the other side wins,” she added. “No wonder we’re all tired.”
Editor’s Note: The original version of this article contained incorrect information on Fred Bedell’s Knights of Columbus council. It is the St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus, Douglaston Council #5911. We regret the error.