Have you had enough yet? By the time November 4th rolls around, we will have been subjected to nearly two years of nonstop campaign mode. It’s hard to see who benefits in this scenario save the media, and vendors to the candidates—although they often get stiffed by the ones who drop out. True, there is some entertainment value in that “sure thing” Rudy Giuliani never launched and Madame Hillary’s every utterance dripped with the sound of entitlement, until she finally conceded to Obama.
My take on Hillary’s concession is that he promised to pay off her massive campaign debt, in exchange for her endorsement, and summary disappearance and silence (except when some remarks are requested by him). Perhaps this will all come out in a few years.
But besides going on for a nauseatingly long period of time, the presidential campaigns focus on attributes that have absolutely nothing to do with selecting a leader.
The two left standing have been able to…
- Raise the most money
- Offend the fewest people
- Repeat the best speeches—written by others
- Get the best photo opps
- Inspire the media (and that’s not terribly difficult)
- Commit the fewest gaffes, or become so beloved (like Obama) that nothing you do matters at all
If, as Hillary Clinton kept insisting, that it all comes down to who is answering the phone at 3 AM, how does any of the above find us the best person? But, Hillary is the last one to speak of sound judgment at 3 AM, or any other time during the day, since her campaign was sunk from the beginning. Imagine! She actually thought that Blacks would reject one of their own, in favor of an obnoxious, unattractive, marginally articulate, and far less clever than she thinks white woman.
Obama, meanwhile, has no résumé at all, and many people find this to be his biggest attraction. If Reagan was the Teflon president, Obama is surely the Teflon candidate, since gaffe after gaffe, and foible after foible generate scant reaction in the mainstream media, even if they are heavily commented on in cyberspace. For his part, Barack wins on all but the second bulleted point, but this certainly did not matter in the primaries, at least.
And, speaking of primaries, why do we have them in the ridiculous state-by-state format? Hillary kept touting the fact that she received 18 million primary votes, as if that really means anything. Lest we forget, the only statistic that is important is how many electoral votes one receives. And, in the presidential election, this is winner take all. Seldom, are many states actually in play.
This time, though, all bets are off. In California, with its large Hispanic population, we can speculate as to how well a Black candidate will do. Generally, there is considerable animus between the races. On the other hand, Hispanics are not big voters. Will this be enough to put this traditional Dem stronghold in play for McCain?
Other tough questions are whether Obama’s race or extreme left-wing politics will be the greater burden, as well as if McCain’s too liberal for prime time Republicanism or his scandal-ridden early career will be enough to trump his war hero image.
Note that all of the candidates could have just as easily been vetted by a much more merciful system—more merciful for both the candidates and the public: Schedule a single national primary for March of the election year. The winner for each party is determined by counting up the number of electoral votes assigned to each state they win—winner take all. By all rights, campaigning should not start until January of that year, but this is left to the discretion of the candidate.
The compelling advantage of this system is that it is much shorter, and much less expensive, since it eliminates the need for the candidates to campaign 19th century style with whistle-stop appearances in hundreds of locations. Is there anyone in the US who does not have access to a TV, radio, the Internet, or print media? How can it possibly matter if a candidate makes a personal appearance somewhere since the vast majority of people will never see the candidate in person? Why worry about a tiny fraction of the electorate? And, this method is much more environmentally friendly.
You might disagree with my recommendation, but I doubt that you disagree with the premise that the presidential election cycle must change.