Lessons Seniors Learned from Past Presidential Campaigns


Lessons Seniors Learned from Past Presidential Campaigns

It is unlikely that you have not heard debates and discussions about the presidential election, whether at work, at dinner with friends or in your own home. These discussions can leave us feeling drained and often fearful about our future. As a response to the issues, consider some advice from seniors which may help you navigate through the sensitive political environment. 

Step back for a minute, turn off the 24-hour news outlets and talk to seniors and other people in your lives who have experienced challenging times in our country and have witnessed many other campaign seasons. These discussions may help you refocus your thinking from fearful thoughts to action-oriented items.

Applying Lessons to Your Life

A number of seniors that I have spoken with have pointed to previous political campaigns in the United States where there has been angry debate and heated discussions. They remind us that, despite your political viewpoint and concerns,  some of the mostly hotly contested candidates who became president are now regarded as some of our country’s greatest leaders.

One example discussed was the campaign of Ronald Reagan. Considered by many to be one of our greatest presidents, during his campaign great doubt and criticism was raised in regards to his background as a “B-list” actor, changed party affiliations and age. Harry Truman was criticized for his career as a failed haberdasher and short tenure as Vice President. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, also regarded as one of our great presidents, was criticized since he ran for a third term, incarcerated Japanese Americans, and didn’t permit European Jews to enter the country.  

Now, let’s look at lessons learned and recommended by seniors to incorporate into our lives while we are discussing and experiencing the present presidential season.

Lesson 1 - Listen to the people around you

Many seniors felt that problems often occur when we ignore others concerns and think that we are more knowledgeable than others. They recommended that we ask for other’s opinions and react to their worries. They stressed that most problems occur when we stop listening, become absorbed with our own lives or make promises that we don’t keep.

Lesson 2 - Take action

Seniors have recommended being proactive instead of being fearful and expressing our concerns to others. This may involve being informed, voting and/or getting involved with your political party at a state or national level. Generally, action-oriented steps help reduce anxiety and fear.

Lesson 3 - Be comfortable with your ability to make a difference

This is not an easy lesson to learn or to apply to our lives. Many individuals question their ability to make a difference or wonder if their opinions will be heard. Many seniors recommend working at voting booths, educating your children, and talking with family and friends about current events. One senior fondly reminisced about learning about politics at a young age from her parents during dinner discussions. She felt that  it was important that her parents took time to teach their children about what was happening in the world. She now talks with her grandchildren about being informed about the election and the importance of voting.

Lesson 4 - Communicate with Consistent Messages and Use Everyday Language

People can understand anything, if is explained with clear concise language. There is no need to hide behind big words or jargon. Don’t underestimate the people around you. Many seniors point to FDR’s fireside chats, where he kept citizens updated on a regular basis with short concise messages.

Lesson 5 - Take a deep breath and access the situation

Nothing can be understood or solved when you are upset. Many seniors have lived through challenging times in their lives and in the country. They felt that finding ways to reduce your anxiety through taking deep breaths, going on a walk, spending time with family or other forms of distraction are helpful in understanding and living through stressful situations. They then said that people are more prepared to listen to the news or read the newspaper during the election season.

This presidential campaign can be a positive learning experience for you and your children. It does not need to be a time of increased anxiety, fear and concern. We can approach this political season and our lives by utilizing these valuable lessons learned from seniors.

This blog article also appeared in the Jewish Exponent