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Trumped Out

Banter Editor Ben Cohen discusses the mental burnout he is feeling having to cover Donald Trump relentlessly, and what steps he is taking to feel like a human again.
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This article was originally published on Banter M, our digital magazine for members. 

If Donald Trump wins the presidential election this November, there's a good chance I will retire from running The Daily Banter for good. I simply cannot fathom mustering the will to continue covering his atrocious behavior over the next four years and will either pack up shop, or leave the site for someone else to run while I go and live in Costa Rica and plot my next move.

And I am only half kidding about this.

While news about Trump has been tremendously good for business, the relentless coverage of what has to be the most dangerous candidate in US history has left me feeling drained. Every day is consumed with covering whatever monumentally dumb shit he has said, unraveling the truly insane number of lies he has told, and explaining why this man is a threat to all life on planet earth. Despite the huge traffic we're getting this election season, this gets old after a while, and I've often felt like throwing in the towel and doing something else with my life. There are many, many other subjects I would like to write about, and spending hours parsing the lunacy of a halfwitted reality TV star with an ego the size of a small country is not one of them.

And yet here I am, banging away at my computer doing just that and hoping with all my heart that some of what I am saying will encourage someone, somewhere to get off their armchair in November and vote for the only serious candidate for president, Hillary Clinton.

I am not claiming my sacrifice is particularly praiseworthy -- it is very small when compared to the activists and organizers hitting the streets to get the vote out -- but I genuinely underestimated the psychological toll of spending most of my waking hours battling against the non-stop stream of lies and extraordinary negativity coming out of the Trump campaign. While America has been through high stake elections before, none are quite as important as this one. And as we have been saying over and over and over again here at the Banter, it is extremely important that people understand this in no uncertain terms. I literally cannot count the number of articles we have published uncovering the breathtaking lies Trump tells on a daily basis, and to be quite frank, I am sick to death of it.

So what to do?

In response to overwhelming negativity, the only thing I've found combats the feelings of utter helplessness is to focus on the positive. While I spend a lot of time covering what is going wrong with the world, there is of course a tremendous amount of good going on. I've started a weekly podcast called 'The Meaning of Life Podcast' with a friend of mine where we discuss how to survive modern life, and I am making a concerted effort to find positive things to write about. Because when you do this, there is actually an astonishing amount of good happening in the world -- we just don't hear about it too often.

For example:

Israel has finally nailed desalination techniques to the point where they have an actual surplus of water. This could have enormously positive benefits for the region's political stability if the Israelis use the water to ease tensions with their drought ridden neighbors.

Then, there's the eruption of electric cars and car sharing services that could radically change the face of transport by drastically reducing CO2 emissions and taking millions of cars off the roads. There have been major medical breakthroughs this year, with potentially life changing treatments for alzheimer's patients, and radically individualized and advanced cancer treatment. France has taken the incredibly progressive move in banning all plastic cups and plates in an effort to curb the pollution of our oceans. The world is also becoming markedly less dangerous and less violent, with decreasing poverty levels and more access to health care than ever before. And on and on and on.

For as much as there is bad in the world, there is also good, and sometimes it is worth taking a moment to remember that Donald Trump does not embody who we are as a species, and that there is much to be hopeful about.

As for me, I'll likely be here no matter what happens this election (although it might well be in Costa Rica!). And even if Trump becomes president, I am going to make a concerted effort to not only shine light on the darkness, but shine light on the light too -- because while uncovering what is wrong with the world has its place, so too does highlighting what we do right. And furthermore, it might just save my sanity.