WASHINGTON—After months of fevered and contentious political discourse, the U.S. populace unanimously agreed Monday that, before somebody gets upset and things get out of hand, it would be better to just stop talking about politics altogether.
Designed to reverse the trend of heated discussions on topics ranging from the Democrats' shifting stance on NAFTA to Sen. John McCain's support for the Iraq War, the nationwide change in subject is effective immediately.
"There's no point getting the country all riled up talking about politics, especially right before a big election like this," 43-year-old Pittsburgh resident Eric Daniels said. "With terrorism and the economy and all these other problems on our minds, nobody wants to talk about which candidate can best restore faith in America both at home and abroad."
"Baseball season just started," Daniels added. "How about them Pirates?"
The decision by all 301,139,947 U.S. citizens to talk about something else is expected to last the more than six months leading up to the presidential election on Nov. 4. During that time, the nation has agreed to supplant all lively debates and impassioned arguments about politics with topics such as movies, music, summertime, and, in some rare cases, personal matters like family, relationships, and feelings.
Anything, Americans strongly reiterated, so long as it is not politics.
A Zogby International poll conducted last week reflected the country's distaste for political debate. When asked if they preferred the Republican emphasis on national security or the more Democratic commitment to domestic issues, 73 percent of respondents agreed to disagree on the matter and just leave it at that; 16 percent called the topic of Obama versus Clinton "touchy" and not worth talking about if it could offend someone; and 11 percent said that for the sake of everyone having a good, hassle-free year, it is probably best to just let it go and not worry about who the 44th president will be.
In addition, nine out of 10 Americans polled stressed that with the dollar's poor performance and record-high gas prices, this is neither the time nor the place to be talking about politics in the first place.
"If people need to talk about Hillary Clinton's health care proposal, I hope they have the decency to let me know so I can go somewhere else first," Jacksonville, FL resident Katherine Watson, 37, said. "Or at least make the conversations more interesting. Maybe talk about Barack Obama's smile or John McCain's weird shoulder thing."
Citizens have also reportedly experienced much less tension in the nation since the ban was instated. Moreover, millions have expressed relief and enthusiasm that, given the backgrounds of the candidates in this election, the injunction has led to a drop in awkward discussions of race, gender, and age.
"Yesterday I had a wonderful, hour-long conversation about how crazy [contestant] Andrew [D'Ambrosi] on Top Chef is, but at least he adds an interesting dynamic to the show," Deirdre Miles, 26, of Sacramento said. "It was such a relief to know that nobody would be bringing up superdelegates, the Pennsylvania primary, or John McCain's comment about having our troops in Iraq for the next 100 years. I've got two brothers fighting over there, so that is the last thing I want to think about right now."
Even as the country braces for a potential recession, a number of media outlets claim that the injunction on talking politics could be a boon to business. With television, newspapers, and radio stations all forced to cover only sports and entertainment, ad revenue and ratings are expected to soar in every major market nationwide.
For their part, politicians have largely been supportive of the move.
"The president is proud that the American people have come together on such an important issue," White House press secretary Dana Perino told reporters at a briefing Tuesday. "He supports their decision wholeheartedly, and thinks U.S. citizens should focus on relaxing and having a good time in the upcoming months."
Added Perino, "We'll take care of the politics for you."
Though the moratorium will likely be lifted after the election, the 1984 agreement between Americans to avoid discussing religion has been extended until 2024.