August 1, 2018

"Start with a politics cleanse: For two weeks — maybe over your August vacation — resolve not to read, watch or listen to anything about politics."

Writes the president of the American Enterprise Institute, Arthur C. Brooks, in a NYT op-ed.
Don’t discuss politics with anyone. When you find yourself thinking about politics, distract yourself with something else. (I listen to Bach cantatas, but that’s not for everybody.) This is hard to do, of course, but not impossible. You just have to plan ahead and stand firm. Think of it as ideological veganism. On the one hand, your friends will think you’re a little wacky. On the other hand, you’ll feel superior to them....

Afterward, with a bit more perspective, you can come back to current events. Three predictions: First, you’ll find that politics is a little like a daytime soap opera, where you can skip a couple of weeks without losing track of the plot. Second, you’ll see the outrage-industrial complex in media and politics more clearly for what it is: a bunch of powerful people who want to keep you wound up for their own profit. Third, like any reformed addict, you’ll see how much time you were wasting and how much you were neglecting people and things you truly love.

After you come back from your politics cleanse, how can you keep from falling back into your old patterns? Resolve to pay attention to ideas, not just politics. They aren’t the same thing. Ideas are like the climate, whereas politics is like the weather....

59 comments:

campy said...

"(I listen to Bach cantatas, but that’s not for everybody.)"

Can you say "humblebrag"? I knew you could.

Michael K said...

No, I will do that after November 6.

Meantime, I have multiple interests. I just rescheduled a pistol training session next month to attend a good looking medical meeting in California.

My B 25 model airplane is coming along slowly. More audio books and almost through "The Sleepwalkers."

Reading a biography of William Donovan and being reminded that the FBI was deep into politics from the time Hoover took over.

FDR spied on all his enemies and some friends.

The pool is inviting when it is 100 outside.

anti-de Sitter space said...

He's doing a Vox show.

Kinda interesting, for both sides.

IMHO.

anti-de Sitter space said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pRJuZlTtXVU

Bay Area Guy said...

Good advice!

Also, you could list 15 or more tangible things that are more important to you than politics. For me, it'd be watching football, playing golf, sleeping with women, drinking beer, reading good books, walking the dog, making money, sleeping with women (but I repeat myself) - all sorts of apolitical shit!

mesquito said...

This has been my life since the Parties settled on their 2016 nominees. It’s been beautiful.

readering said...

Used to easily do that when vacationed abroad or on cruise. Have a feeling wifi/phone service has improved enough that it does not work.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

This is the beauty of camping. No internet. No television. No telephone/cell reception. No distractions. We do bring some music to listen to on our wireless speakers.

Peace, quiet, the sounds of nature, rustling trees in the wind, birds and animal sounds. We go to areas that are not full of people or have secluded camping sites.

We read. Play board games, scrabble, cards. Nap. Cook food. Have cocktails. Take walks. Swim if possible in the stream or pond. Rinse and repeat for several days.

It is so relaxing to be disconnected. Rebooting your life.

MountainMan said...

Well, my wife and I are going on a cruise at the end of the month, visiting England, Denmark, and Norway. Do not plan to listen to any news nor discuss politics with anyone for any reason. I will, however, catch up with Althouse when I get back!

Freeman Hunt said...

Arthur C. Brooks is great. I enjoy pretty much everything he writes.

Rory said...

Watch old TV: Dick van Dyke, Perry Mason, Alfred Hitchcock, Jack Benny.

tcrosse said...

Coming soon: How to Listen to Bach Cantatas in the Trump Era.

Michael K said...

"all sorts of apolitical shit!"

Reminds of the ex-girlfriend. "All you care about is your fucking truck!"


"No, there are guns and beer."

Ralph L said...

Resolve to pay attention to ideas, not just politics.

IOW, pay attention to AEI.

I was thinking an hour ago, what percentage of Americans actually pay regular attention to national politics? 5%? 1%?

rhhardin said...

I listen to Bach cantatas, but that’s not for everybody.

Doubtful. Bach churned them out like soap operas.

If you like Bach, most likely you like something other than cantatas.

Matt said...

I consciously stopped following the news a couple months ago. I may check headlines every day or two but thats about it. Blog visits have also been cut dramatically.

Life is better when you dont subject yourself to the brain droppings of some of the most stupid people to ever walk God's green Earth.

MadisonMan said...

I do like the phrase 'outrage-industrial complex'. Fitting.

rehajm said...

I love Brooks, too. After leaving his last gig I was wondering where he’d land.

BamaBadgOR said...

I tried something similar to this my freshman year at UW Madison re my studies.

Be said...

Instagram is the only place I look at regularly, these days. Don't indulge in the commentariat, as it's a broader version of the comments here.

Leland said...

But the Obama Administration told us to talk about politics, even at family holidays and gatherings.


I take an op-ed like this as evidence these people are losing the debate and trying to find ways to hide the fact they are throwing in the towel.

tim in vermont said...

My IRL friends on Instagram started posting political memes relating to their fetish for hating Trump, so I stopped with that.

tcrosse said...

If you like Bach, most likely you like something other than cantatas.

Either Glenn Gould or Ward Swingle.

Char Char Binks said...

How is saying you like Bach a humblebrag?

I don't like Bach; I love Bach! Even so, I generally prefer instrumental music to songs.

Char Char Binks said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
tim in vermont said...

They do need to take a break though. The Democrats are going to wear out their emotions with all of these scare tactics. Eventually election day is going to arrive and the economy is going to be good, and the world isn’t going to be blown up, and there won’t be a new war, and people are going to ask themselves why they are so upset all of the time and the answer is going to be that the Democrats did it to get them to vote for them.

n.n said...

It's a bit early to start campfires with a fresh issue of NYT, and WaPo is a low quality source of embers for a cooking fire.

Two-eyed Jack said...

What if the Continental Congress had done this for their August break after their busy July in 1776? Maybe Jefferson could have listened to some Bach cantatas and Franklin might have
seen how much time he was wasting and how much he was neglecting people and things he truly loved. Then Madison, Wisconsin would not have to worry about its name or its sheds, since it would have been named after the Duke of Wellington or someone with a similarly admirable legacy.

Howard said...

Sounds like a junkie claiming he can chip heroin without consequences. Trump is the Mind Fuck that keeps his lovers and haters begging for more.

tim in vermont said...

Ezra Klien, capo di capo of the juicebox mafia. You reach a certain age and you find it difficult to take a child like that seriously. He doesn’t have nearly the self awareness, much less acquired wisdom, to give advice to anybody, much less people he disagrees with politically. He should still be a reporter, learning the ropes, reporting the actual events of the day, not a pontificator. He doesn’t have the life experience. But I guess he felt like he deserved to be telling people what to think so. he skipped the part about filling his brain with stuff worth talking about.

Anyway, that’s my comment on ads’s youtube. If he feels like there was something in there I missed, maybe he could call out one of those interesting ideas, instead of asking us to spend twenty minutes listening to self important twits babble.

Sebastian said...

I appreciate this, you know, this small-c conservative attempt to put mere politics in its place, we aren't like progs after all, politics isn't our religion, but of course, sitting out the civil war just hands victory to the other side.

"First, you’ll find that politics is a little like a daytime soap opera, where you can skip a couple of weeks without losing track of the plot" It is soap opera, but not for that reason

"Second, you’ll see the outrage-industrial complex in media and politics more clearly for what it is: a bunch of powerful people who want to keep you wound up for their own profit." Umm, no, their own power: with which progs happily go along.

"Third, like any reformed addict, you’ll see how much time you were wasting and how much you were neglecting people and things you truly love." Fine, makes sense for a conservative. But the pursuit of power, power after power that ceaseth only in death, is the prog MO. The addiction is the point.

Bay Area Guy said...

This weekend my Wife booked a beach cottage in Santa Cruz, where we are bringing 5 teenagers (our 2 and 3 friends). I am going to work on my tan, drink Mai-Tais, strum my guitar, bark at the teens and avoid all political discussions - except for multiple derogatory comments about the socialist waitress of color from NY who deserves all the sustained mocking I can render.

traditionalguy said...

Fasting for a season. Alcoholics call that “drying out.” But once a political addict, always a political addict.

Sebastian said...

""(I listen to Bach cantatas, but that’s not for everybody.)"

Can you say "humblebrag"?"

Odd. One of the most satisfying things any human being can do is "humblebrag"?

"Doubtful. Bach churned them out like soap operas.

If you like Bach, most likely you like something other than cantatas."

He did churn them out, some years, but not like that. Sure, Bach lovers "like something other than" as well. But what could top the cantatas?

Of course, this issue raises a conundrum for conservatives: the sheer availability of an enormous range of fantastic music, including multiple versions of the best cantatas, for ordinary music lovers to enjoy every day, in a way never before possible except for the very top specialists, is surely a sign of the progress we have made as a civilization. So I am a very progressive conservative.

anti-de Sitter space said...

"Anyway, that’s my comment on ads’s youtube."

My link was to show that A Brooks has hooked up w/ Vox (aka Ezra-ish).


I do agree that Ezra is not the brightest bulb in the pack. And, I'd agree that he's very flawed. Presumably yur implying that yur more informed and less blinded by political tribalism.

Agree to disagree, re that last point.

Francisco D said...

"I consciously stopped following the news a couple months ago. I may check headlines every day or two but thats about it. Blog visits have also been cut dramatically."

You are a better man than I am, Gunga Din.

Smarter too.

EDH said...

Pretty much my existing outlook and approach.

The best public policy writers convince you they just explained to you what you already knew.

Brooks is one of the best.

Openidname said...

The commenters in the N.Y. Times article are unhinged, as usual. Many comments are along these lines:

"An August recess for the general public, eh? With just a few months before midterm elections? While a sitting president makes plans for another private meeting with Putin, threatens the Attorney General and complains that Paul Manafort, whose trial is underway, is being treated worse than Al Capone? No chance. An uninformed citizenry is the last thing we ever need, and certainly not at a critical time like this. Nothing should pass under the radar."

Also lots of talk about Brooks' "privilege."

rhhardin said...

But what could top the cantatas?

Mass in B Minor, if you want choral.
(7 out of 7 of my bookmarks of this are now blocked for copyright violations)
Easter Oratoria
(bookmark likewise blocked)

Violin sonata scored for piano
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ej-HCC4-QUA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=78tDAqhdMsc&feature=related


Bradenburg Concerto 6 scored for piano 4 hands
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nbO5lp0bn-c

nobody blocks piano transcriptions.

Sebastian said...

"But what could top the cantatas?

Mass in B Minor, if you want choral."

Yeah, yeah, didn't think I had to belabor the obvious for the connoisseurs around here.

surfed said...

I'm sailing and surfing in Nova Scotia, Canada for the months of August and September. Politics is on everyone's mind here. And mouth. I just wanted to catch some tasty waves and cool winds... Sigh.

Yancey Ward said...

Yeah, dude, spend August not thinking of Trump in the Oval Office that rightfully belonged to Hillary. That'll work!

narciso said...

Surfing off nova Scotia how does that work?

Unknown said...

Everybody has to tell you how to live

by their values

rehajm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rehajm said...

Brooks is better engaged in policy debates rather than telling people to avoid them

Kirk Parker said...


EDH,

"Brooks is one of the best [public policy writers]"

They are, all of them, quite useless, aren't they?

tim maguire said...

I used to do 6-week news blackouts one or twice a year. Broader than the politics blackouts, but he's totally right about the effect. It's not important to keep up. It's not important to have opinions about everything. Life is better without it. And so much of it is manipulation designed to keep you agitated.

rehajm said...

They are, all of them, quite useless, aren't they?

It's relative. I'd much rather see Brooks making policy than Bernie Sanders, for example.

surfed said...

@narcisco: Incredible surf when the hurricanes run up the coast. More point breaks per square mile than a handful of Californias. Low - almost non existant - surfer population density is a plus. My little South Shore area has three or four point breaks in just a couple mile area. Don't even get me started on the number of reef breaks. Cowabunga brother. Oh yeah - water temps at 60-65*F.

Angle-Dyne, Angelic Buzzard said...

Char Char:

How is saying you like Bach a humblebrag?

There are some people not into classical music (or any other "highbrow" musical form) who are sure that anybody expressing enthusiasm for it is just being pretentious.

Which is weird, because even a musical philistine like myself regularly resorts to Haydn for consolation when the barbarian hordes are getting me down.

But I guess campy can speak for himself on what motivated his weird comment.

Henry said...

Good advice.

Fernandistein said...

Moderation in everything except moderation.

sparrow said...

Love this idea: distance and perspective are healthy

Nancy said...

I myself relax by writing Bach cantatas.

narciso said...

I would but then they pull this carp


https://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2018/aug/1/prosecutor-rick-gates-may-not-testify-manafort-tri/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork

Unknown said...

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Jim at said...

An uninformed citizenry is the last thing we ever need, and certainly not at a critical time like this.

I'll take an uniformed citizenry over a misinformed one.

DCE said...

I have challenged a number of friends overloading on politics and permanently 'bad' news to try reading nothing but science and technology news for a week or two, then compare it to what they had read or watched prior to that. Almost invariably they found the science/tech news was quite positive and uplifting while 'regular' news was negative and a buzzkill.