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By Dave Palmer
Lately, just about every major news network has been either running stories or at least mentioning potential presidential candidates for 2016. Normally, these kinds of stories would be saved for after the midterm elections when candidates actually declare their intention to run for president. However, in this new technology age, it seems that two years of incessant campaigning isn’t quite enough to please the network executives.
It is with this thought in mind that I implore the television, print, and online journalists to please let the American people relax a little bit between election cycles. Seriously, it’s been less than six months since we inaugurated President Obama for a second term, and our attention has already shifted to who’s going to be next in line. Can we please allow at least a year to pass before we start tapping potential candidates?
Most people, myself included, were suffering election season burnout by the time we hit the polls last November. Mr. Romney had been campaigning for almost the entire four years preceding the 2012 election with the rest of the Republican candidates right on his heels. A day could barely go by without hearing who’s leading in the primaries, who’s up in the polls, who’s going to be dropping out. And that’s coming from a state that’s not necessarily considered a battleground state. Just think about how the people in Iowa, Ohio, and Pennsylvania felt.
Despite the fact that Mr. Romney decided that Michigan was a lost cause early in the race, thus sparing most of the Presidential political advertisements, that is not an excuse to make up for lost time by bombarding us with ideas about who might be throwing their hat into the ring. Such news stories as these that run way too early have a tendency to turn people off to the political process in general and minimizes their sense of political efficacy.
Think about it for a minute. How important are you going to believe your vote for president is when eight months after you cast it, television stations are already wondering who his replacement will be? How likely is it that you will go to the polls next year and vote in the midterm elections when those races are being brushed aside to focus on people who have yet to make a formal declaration of their candidacy for president?
Sure, running for president isn’t an easy task. I will even go so far to agree that people who are seriously considering running for president start working on their campaign just about the time the current president’s hand leaves the Bible after swearing the oath of office. However, they mostly keep their plans on the down low until after the midterm elections in order to prevent campaign fatigue for themselves and the American people.
Perhaps the media is purposefully trying to burn people out before the midterm elections. After all, most of their boards of directors are composed of stuffy old conservative men who have long since realized that high voter turnout tends to favor the Democrats. It would make perfect sense for them to insist that their television stations blast the people each and every day with “news” built around conjecture that is neither timely nor wanted.
Whatever the ulterior motive of media is in tapping candidates long before they decide to join the race, its most noticeable effect is to strengthen people’s beliefs that people who become president in this county are chosen long in advance for us and that our vote is simply a formality in the process of seating them in the Oval Office.
If we are ever to get our democracy back, we need to place limitations on how far in advance one can declare candidacy for president, how far in advance they are allowed to campaign, and how much money they are allowed to gather and spend on their campaign. We also need to tell the national and local media sources to cool their heels about speculating who is going to be running for president and instead wait for the facts to emerge.