The day after Trump was elected was like any other day for me, an optimistic 16-year-old. I understood the country was divided over the election and that some of my family members would probably get into a squabble over Thanksgiving dinner. What I did not expect was that I was supposed to feel depressed.
Teachers offered tissue boxes and extensions on assignments and posted signs pledging they stood behind “BIPOC” and “LGBTQ” students. They suggested we leave class to go to the counselor’s office if we needed “space.”
At that age, I did not know where I stood politically. I did not own a house or vote or pay taxes.
My grandfather’s family escaped from communist Russia and Nazi Germany. They had seen the consequences of large, tyrannical governments and believed that individuals should have the ultimate freedom over how they choose to live, pray or run a business. Those sentiments appealed to me.
I didn’t like Trump as a person, but I didn’t mind some of his policies. What I didn’t know was that my peers expected me to be in a state of mourning when he became president, and if I did not appear that way, I would be considered a sociopath.
The way my school, local community and the leftist media responded to the election of President Trump made me wonder if there was a correlation between political party and mental health.
The short answer to that question is yes.
According to a Pew Research study, 60 percent of white people who call themselves “very liberal” or “liberal” have been diagnosed with a mental health condition, compared to 26 percent of conservatives and 20 percent of moderates.
Some speculate that liberals are more open to mental health discussions and more likely to seek out a diagnosis.
What is spoken about less is how the core beliefs of phony progressivism can strip away a person’s agency, perpetuate cancel culture and reject many positive ideals of family. The result of these modes of thinking is a plethora of mental health challenges.
Among all generations, Gen Z held the strongest belief that the government should do more to solve problems, as opposed to private companies and individuals.
I hear the blame game all the time in conversations with peers. “Maybe if there was more federal low-income housing, people wouldn’t be homeless?” or “Maybe if the government provided health care, it wouldn’t be so expensive?”
Sure, the government can always do more. But what if instead of responding to the consequences of people’s choices, we expected them to make better choices for themselves?
The blame-game mentality seeps into every aspect of one’s life: “I would have done better in school if my parents had gotten me one of those expensive tutors” or “I would have been in better shape if it wasn’t for the pandemic.”
Dr. Bernard Golden, who founded Anger Management Education in Chicago, has written about how blaming others can rob people of their ability to develop resiliency:
“By itself, and through diminishing the openness for reflection, blaming others contributes to feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. This can lead not only to anger, but to depression as well,” Golden wrote for Psychology Today.
To take the issue a step further, phony progressivism drives a surveillance system of cancel culture, which leads to anxiety and bullying among youth.
In some instances, cancel culture rightfully exposes influential people committing heinous acts. When used against uneducated teens, however, cancel culture misses its goal to inform.
Lea Lis is a psychiatrist and professor at NYU. She has found cancel culture to be a destructive and dangerous force when applied to young people.
In one article, Lis cites a case of one of her 14-year old patients who made a comment about another student being a “fag.” His parents and teachers immediately intervened, and he wrote an apology letter. But later, other students created a campaign to unfriend him on social media. He was ostracized, lost friends and became depressed.
Lis warns against the prevalence of cancel culture among young people: “Stupid comments made by teens can render them ‘canceled’ and cause them to be bullied mercilessly. This happens online and often goes ignored by everyone at school as everyone feels vindicated in doing so.”
Finally, a new progressive agenda that rejects positive family and gender roles could jeopardize the physical and mental health of young people.
Of all the liberal beliefs, tolerance is my favorite. I like the “I want the government to stay out of my pocketbook and my bed” politics. I was raised to treat people based on their character rather than how they look or who they choose to sleep with. But the idea of tolerance has been taken to a new extreme.
In Washington state, middle school students at one school were given handouts advising them that they can receive an abortion without consent “AT ANY AGE.” Students were also informed that they could legally have intercourse at the age of 11 with someone who is two years older or younger.
Sex positivity is one thing, but actively acknowledging and endorsing sexual behavior at such a young age has proven to have terrible consequences on young people.
Research from The Heritage Foundation has revealed that “when compared to teens who are not sexually active, teenage boys and girls who are sexually active are significantly less likely to be happy and more likely to feel depressed.”
The study also indicated that the majority of sexually active teens express regrets over sexual activity.
When I failed to shed tears after the election of Donald Trump, I worried there was something wrong with me. Five years later, I see that the only thing wrong was that I felt social pressure to cry over it.
My grandpa would roll over in his grave if he saw what was going on today. I fear that this country, which once prided itself on the freedom of the individual, is becoming far too similar to the places my family escaped from.
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