Watching American Politics When Overseas is Frustrating!

When Americans vote in the midterm elections on November 6 — quite likely deciding the fate of the US for generations to come — I’m going going to be at sea on a cruise ship for forty days.

I’m sad I won’t be around to help out any of the campaigns, but I’m kind of glad too.

Brent recently wrote about how being a digital nomad (continuously traveling while we write our books) has helped him achieve a better work-life balance. What he says goes for both of us. While we both still care deeply about our writing, we’ve visited so many new places, done so many cool things, and made so many new friends that our writing is no longer the only thing we are passionate about.

But work-life balance isn’t the only thing traveling has allowed us to find a healthier balance with.

It’s also helped with politics.

You might say Brent and I are obsessed with politics. I’ve never missed voting in my entire life and I cast my first vote as soon as soon as I turned eighteen. I’ve passionately followed and argued politics my entire life.

Mostly I’ve been able to follow the ins and outs without getting too worked up over things. Oh, sure, there were times when I was furious: the impeachment of Bill Clinton, the Supreme Court stealing the presidency from Al Gore, the Iraq War, and, of course, the fight for gay rights.

But it wasn’t until the 2016 campaign that it felt like politics took over my life. And the year after Trump got elected? Man, it was awful.

Like nightmare awful.

I couldn’t stop reading the news, arguing with people online, and screaming at NPR over their insane determination to treat obvious Republican bad faith lies with “fairness” and “balance” that just ends up reinforcing the lies.

It wasn’t healthy for me.

So when Brent and I decided to become digital nomads, I hoped being out of the country would help me stop obsessing so much. I didn’t want to stop caring or abandon my country and fellow Americans; I just wanted to not let it rule my life; to not let anger be my dominant emotion.

And it mostly worked. Living in Malta and Italy and Bulgaria, I still cared about what happened back in the US. But being so far away allowed me to have some distance from events as they unfolded. And being seven time zones ahead meant I wasn’t watching every new horrible development unfold in real time.

Then came the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, and I got sucked right back in despite myself. I constantly checked Twitter. When I woke up in the middle of the night, I’d check the headlines for the latest development.

And I got angrier and angrier. Basically, I was in a blinding rage. It’s calmed down a little, but I’m still pretty mad.

If I was back at home, I would channel all this anger into the election itself. I would pick a lower-profile Democratic candidate, and do everything I could to work for his or her election. Since we’re digital nomads now, I might even travel to another state. As it is, we’ve already both voted absentee (and donated money).

Alas, we’re going to be at sea for the next forty days. And when the votes finally start coming in, we’ll have just started the transatlantic crossing from Europe to the US. Which means I won’t have access to the internet, so I won’t be able to follow every development even if I wanted to.

This is probably better for me. The signs seem to indicate a huge blue wave will sweep across the US, washing the dumpster fire that is the Republican Party out to sea. And if that happens, the past two years will feel more like an aberration and less of an ugly revelation of America’s true national character.

Hopefully, when we finally land back in America on November 17th, our country will be a little bit closer to the America I’ve always hoped it can finally be. Until then, Brent and I are with all Americans of intelligence and goodwill, at least in spirit, hoping for what may finally be the beginning to the end of this latest national nightmare.