In my last blog post, I wrote in response to my local newspaper's posing of the question "What are your thoughts about whether the Christmas/Holiday Season starts too early these days?" My answer was, as I suspect it is for anyone over 30 or 35, "Yes." In fact, the only other thing I can think of that starts much too soon is the Presidential campaign we must endure every four (or perhaps it's now only two) years.
By the time the 2016 race for the White House ends, we will have been subjected to more than 18 months of half-truths, innuendos, accusations, bold promises, temper tantrums, ego-stroking, and braggadocio. And that's all from one candidate. (I'll let you guess which one.)
I'll make no secret of the fact that I support Bernie Sanders for President. Opponents ridicule his ideas for expanding Medicare and offering free college tuition as giveaways. I prefer to think of them as investments in the true infrastructure of America, its people.
However, this is not a post about Sanders or any other specific candidate. It is, instead, about the interminable length of the Presidential race, the duration of which makes it impossible for anyone without access to tens of millions (likely to so be hundreds of millions) to run for the office. From where I sit, this seems to ensure that the political process will continue to be controlled by the wealthiest of Americans for decades to come.
Regardless of which candidate you support (please tell me it isn't Mike Huckabee), I think most of us - with the possible exception of comedians and late night talk show hosts who benefit from months of material without really having to work hard for it - can agree that the process starts much too soon and lasts much too long.
I'm not entirely convinced that this is simply due to the evolution of or the complexity of the political process. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I think this is some sort of insidious plot by those who wish to control the process.
Somewhere in some smoke-filled room (cliche, I know, but isn't that where these kinds of things get done?) someone or some group of people came up with the idea of extending the Presidential election process to the point where it becomes almost like "white noise" and gets tuned out by the majority of the electorate. How else would you explain the continuing decline in voter turnout in many areas? (I'm sorry, but quality of candidates is too easy an answer.)
The added benefit for these puppet masters is that this "white noise" filters down below the Presidential level to state and local races, reducing voter interest and turnout, making it easier for the candidates they support to win election and re-election time and again. For me, at least, this is the only way I can explain poor people in Kentucky voting to elect a governor who openly promised to end the one program that gave them access to affordable health insurance. (Your mileage may vary.)
The political process has reached the point where the joke is that a newly elected official must begin work toward getting reelected the day after getting elected in the first place. Running for election is all but a full-time job in and of itself. I think it is safe to say that the only thing with a longer shelf life than the electoral process is fruitcake, and I'm not sure we want anything competing with that.