July 19, 2019

The Problem with the Never-Ending Election Cycle

“The 2020 presidential campaign is already upon us.

Scarcely hours after the titanic drubbing Democrats delivered to President Trump’s GOP in the 2018 midterm elections, the 2020 presidential campaign began in deeply unwelcome earnest. CNN gave us a new power ranking (which they had been doing since July!) of what is expected to be a large and diverse Democratic field. Reporters chased rumors about potential Democratic candidates Beto O’Rourke and Michael Bloomberg. Rarely did anyone in the media step back and ask, “Hey what the hell is going on? This is not what sane people do.”

It doesn’t have to be this way. America’s presidential campaigns are interminable, a slow-burning misery that we inflict knowingly on ourselves despite no constitutional or logical reason for doing so. Like a shared delusion, we all believe this infinity circus to be necessary even though it quite obviously is not. It feels like it’s getting worse every cycle, and only the political parties themselves can stop it.

It should come as no surprise that no other advanced democracy on Earth spends 18 months out of a 48-month presidential term picking its next national executive. For instance, former Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt announced on May 27, 2015 that national elections would be held on June 18 of that same year, barely three weeks later. Yes, Denmark is a small country, but if three weeks are enough time for electioneering in what is probably the world’s premier democracy, it should give us pause about the amount of time we devote to ours. In the U.K., Prime Minister Theresa May announced elections on April 18, 2017 to be held less than two months later. Somehow the islanders kept electoral calm and carried on.”

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