Got Election Rage?

December 17, 2000 by  
Filed under Teenagers/Tweens

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Just get over it. The bumper-sticker solution for deep-seated resentments might play well in a sitcom dialogue, but in the polarized aftermath of the most divisive presidential election in modern history, those could be fightin’ words.

Melbourne child psychologist Dr. Vicki Panaccione says the divide is so visceral, there’s no way to “just get over it” until people comprehend the nature of what it is they’re being asked to just get over.

“‘Just get over it’ is what we tell children, and it’s not a bad idea (in theory), but it tends to leave a lot of things unsettled,” Panaccione says. “In this case, I think it’d be a mistake to ‘Just get over it’ while there’s still so much distrust and confusion over the system that got us where we are today.”

And it’s not just losers who have to make that effort, she cautions. George W. Bush’s supporters may be tempted to blame Al Gore’s protracted election challenge for whatever setbacks the new administration encounters.

“It may not be enough to be for Bush,” she says. “It may come down to blaming (Gore supporters) and saying, ‘You’re not only a sore loser, we could’ve been getting a lot more things done a lot earlier if Gore hadn’t dragged it out.”

Adult voters aren’t the only ones facing the ‘Just Get Over It’ dilemma. Panaccione says the teens and preteens she sees in (her private) practice have been “shaken up” by the election stale-mate media blitz—especially kids who’ve been told every vote counts.

“It’s important for parents to have a dialogue with their kids,” she says. “If they say, ‘Why did Gore do this?’, rather than say, ‘Because he is a sore loser’ and let that be it, dialogue with them, let them formulate their own opinions.

“There’s an upside to this. I think the kids have been wonderfully stimulated. I’ve heard them talking about how we need to fix the voting system, and they have some great ideas. This can be an opportunity to get them involved in our democratic process, whether it’s campaigning or writing letters to their representative in Congress.

“The flip side to this is complacency, and maybe that got us to where we are today.”

As published in Florida Today, Dec. 14, 2000.
Florida Today

© MMVI Vicki Panaccione, Ph.D.

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