I find the current state of presidential politiking more than a little disturbing. Here we are a full 20+ months away from the next presidential election, and already the campaigning process has swung into high gear. I fear that by the time the election finally rolls around, I, and many like me, will have soured on the process so completely that voting will become a desparate act of excorcism of the candidates that bedeviled us for so long, rather than the exercise of a right to choose who will govern us for the following 4 years.
That the aspiring candidates feel it necessary to bombard us with their thoughts for so long a time before we cast our votes, makes me think that they think they have a lot to say, when in fact they have little to say but want to say it a lot. In the time between now and the election, issues will come and go, the import of decisions made by the current administration will swell and ebb as the political tide flows, and the would-be presidents will have made numerous blunders, gaffes, and changed their minds many times in a boggling display of political agility, futility, and spin. They have too much time to embarrass themselves and us.
So many of the fledgling campaigns have no chance of succeeding--and the candidates who run them must realize that--that you have to wonder why they go through the hell of trying. I can appreciate the desire to serve and lead, but where do some of these would-be presidents get the idea that they have the necessary attributes to call themselves leaders. I understand that having a variety of choices makes for a lively. and hopefully informative, campaign, but I still think that the political waters will be more muddied than clarified by the plethora of fools wading in that stream.
When you consider the amount of money it takes to run a campaign, where that money comes from becomes an issue itself. Special interest groups can’t be held at arm’s length for long when the millions of dollars start to roll into the campaign coffers. We don’t like to think that an office like the Presidency can be bought, but when the dollar figures keep adding more and more zeros to the left of the decimal point, only the richest campaigns have a chance of succeeding. And with riches come corruption and obligation. I don’t care how often a candidate avows that he owes no allegiance to the contributors to his campaign, there is always the perception that those who give the most, get the most in return. The longer the campaign season, the more that perception, and the real possibility, of a candidate being bought and held hostage by the contributors will seem a reality.
The solution? How about an amendment to the Constitution limiting the length of the campaign season. The usual state primaries could be held, but anyone who intends to enter a state primary would be forbidden to enter that state for any political purpose for a period of 6 months and one week before the primary is held. No signs, no advertising, no door to door canvassing allowed until one week before the primary. Then one week before the primary all the announced candidates could woo the voters as best they could for that week. Once the primary is over, no more politiking would be allowed in that state until the actual presidential campaign season starts. Of course, spending would be limited and every candidate would get the same amount of money to spend in the primary. Then how about limiting the would-be presidential nominees of their respective parties to 30 days before their party’s convention to state their case and win the hearts of their fellows. If you can’t explain your stand on the current issues, and what you feel qualifies you to take on those issues, in 30 days, then you are wasting our time. That 30 day window of opportunity would allow anyone with the desire to serve an equal chance to state his/her case for inclusion in the process. Money would be capped at a reasonable figure for everyone and would be provided by a national campaign fund open to anyone who meets the necessary qualifications. After that 30 day run-up to the nominating conventions, the parties involved would choose the candidates they want to represent their interests, and the presidential campaign between the chosen candidates would take place much the same as it does now. The only difference would be that all the chosen candidates would receive the same amount of campaign money from the national campaign fund. How they use the money is up to them. And mandatory weekly debates among candidates would ensure that we the people got to hear and see our potential President in action.
I will leave the details to the lawyers and the constitutional experts to iron out. If nothing else, I think a case can be made that the current long drawn out process we are subject to violates the VIII Amendment to the constitution.