One person I didn’t want coming with me when I visited my family in New York was Donald Trump.
Trump has already been a presence in more areas of my life than I would like. The most omnipresent politician in U.S. history followed me to Rochester, too; there was just no way to avoid him.
I’ve always thought that being knowledgeable about and engaged in government was important. However, Americans are now suffering from an inability to detach from national politics, often due to factors from both within and without.
I arrived at my grandpa’s house just as the congressional investigation into the firing of James Comey began. My grandpa and uncle sat in the living room, silently watching the proceedings on CNN. I couldn’t resist watching as well, and looked forward to its developments.
In previous visits home, time with family was spent talking to about different life events that had transpired since we last met. On this occasion, however, the hearings were too tempting to shut out, and watching and talking about them took away from precious family time.
With this administration, if it hadn’t been Comey’s hearing, it would have been something else demanding attention. The non-stop, controversial, melodramatic news coming out of the White House is like a car siren. It’s persistent and annoying, but just varied enough that we can’t ignore it — almost as if Trump is saying, “Don’t forget who your president is.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think this never-ending news cycle will stop until Trump leaves the presidency. So, if I want to ignore politics while on vacation, I need simply to not watch national news on television.
After this decision, I had to check my motives for a minute. Why would someone majoring in philosophy, politics, economics and law major — someone who wants a politically educated populace — wish for a break from politics?
Most of the time, understanding political developments are important in my life. I gain knowledge and form stronger opinions. I use some of it to advocate for issues in my community. However, I could get those benefits whether I watch the news now or a week from now. On vacation, I feel that news can wait.
My biggest reason for avoiding the news are the negative side effects that come with watching it; I get anxious and upset about people I have never met and have no influence over (at least for now). On vacations, though, my goal is to spend time with my family, so I realized that it’s healthier to avoid this distraction.
Even if I take the step not to willingly seek out the news, however, I know it will still find me. Trump’s face clutters my Facebook feed. My email is full of different organizations asking me to call my senator to speak out against him. I appreciate this in my daily life, but it’s frightening that I can never turn it off.
Even if I could isolate myself from all the external political input, Trump would still hold a place in my mind. The opinions that cycle through my head are always ready to pop out during a conversation or rant.
Ultimately, the inability to take a break from national politics might just drive me insane. Though politics is important in my life, it has taken a disproportionate amount of my time, thoughts and effort.
I wish that my grandpa and I could have spent more time telling stories rather than discussing the ramifications of a foreign country influencing our election. I wish that I could have spent more time relaxing over a board game with my brother than browsing Google for national news.
I wish that it was easy to return to my own sphere of influence, my own life and my own relationships. However, the administration and our curiosity have created a culture that focuses so much on the drama of Washington that it seems impossible to get away.
I often try to incorporate some sort of solution into an opinion piece, but I don’t see one for this problem. If there is a genius out there who has found a way to detach, he or she should let the rest of us know. Otherwise, it may just be a fact of life that, while Donald Trump is president, there will be no true vacation.
Follow Toni Marcheva on Twitter.