Give us a Political Break
Two more crimes were committed last week in full view of millions of Americans. Yet no one will be arrested or charged with any violations.
I refer to the latest round of Democratic presidential debates, which began in late June—more than 16 months ahead of the 2020 election.
I know I’m not the only one who finds this incessant political campaigning a bit over the top.
To wit, the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released two days before the first debate. It found two-thirds of Democratic voters saying they’re only paying some or no attention.
Who can blame them?
Of course, plenty were still watching: the LA Times reported a record 18.1 million tuned in to the second night’s broadcast several weeks back.
In addition, the day after the second debate, expert prognosticator Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight site argued that plenty of people were paying attention. FiveThirtyEight said it’s how pollsters framed the questions that made the difference.
Personally, I’m going with AP and NORC on this one.
My distaste for never-ending political campaigns goes back nearly a dozen years.
Before we went totally cable free, an unexpected and sizable increase in electricity rates forced us to reduce our expense. We chose the more affordable, basic option with fewer channels.
About a year later, I noticed that I was much calmer and more peaceful inside.
As I thought about it, I realized a major reason came from no longer flipping to CNN and Fox News for 10 or 15 minutes before heading out somewhere.
I mention those two offenders—though there are others—because of their continuous presidential race coverage. As soon as one ends, they speculate about the next. Without realizing it, such debate kept me stirred up inside. Only after I stopped watching regularly did I realize the impact that had been making.
Hyperbole & Political Posturing
Give our cherished to freedom of speech, trying to restrict the length of campaigns likely wouldn’t go too far.
Yet, sometimes I wonder if politicians and their coterie of advisers ever stop to consider that millions of us get tired of all the unending hyperbole and posturing.
Many of us just tune it out with the mental note: “Wake us up a month before the primaries.”
Checking online, I found that nearly four years ago NPR posed the question: “Why Are U.S. Elections So Much Longer Than Other Countries?”
One irony I noted: then Vice President Joe Biden declining to enter the 2016 race with 384 days until Election Day because it was too late for him to be competitive.
Commented NPR writer Danielle Kurtzleben: “Here’s the thing: 384 days is an absurdly long time.”
So, how do nationally-televised debates about 500 days before the next election stack up on the absurd meter?
The other noteworthy items in the NPR story concerned how much shorter campaigns are in other countries:
- Canada had just wrapped up its latest, longer-than-normal election season: about 11 weeks
- After a 60-day campaign to vie for the nomination, Mexico’s general election campaigns start 90 days before election day—and have to stop three days prior
- In Argentina, advertisements can only start 60 days before the election, and the official campaign 25 days later
- France’s presidential campaign generally only lasts two weeks, while Japan’s is a scant 12 days.
We have to ask ourselves: can we learn something from other countries? I say, “Yes.”
While there may be no law against constant campaigns, I think many of us make the choice to ignore the hoo-hah for now. We can wait until next year.