June 7, 2011

The Silly Season

Resolved: That the United States should significantly change the method of selection of presidential and vice-presidential candidates. (From the NFL web site, not the football NFL)

As a high school member of the National Forensics League, I spent my senior year discussing the above resolution.

Nearly forty years later, things are worse. And we’re spending more money.
Earlier in the year, National Public Radio's Morning Edition ran a story about the possibility that the 2012 Presidential election will be a "multibillion-dollar contest."

The Dems are expected to raise at least a billion for President Obama's re-election, which means the Republicans can't be left out of this high dollar party.

According to the article (link below), President Obama raised $746 million in 2008, double what President Bush raised four years before. That 2004 amount was double what Bush the Younger himself raised in 2000.

The “Silly Season” is about to begin (These pols are scheduled to meet June 13 in New Hampshire—Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachman, businessman Herman Cain, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, Texas Rep. Ron Paul, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, former Massachusetts Gov. Williard “Mitt” Romney, and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum).

Here were a few of our team’s ideas when I was seventeen, with updates for the changes in today’s society.

Limit the amount of spending. And mean it. (Can you say Citizen's United? Despite Clarence Thomas not speaking in court for five years, his vote said a lot on that decision. Can't you see he and Ginny, sitting at home in their Statue of Liberty hats, drinking a toast to all the corporations that support their causes? Cheers!)

Have more frequent debates, broadcast from Washington DC. More time has passed since I was a high school senior, than passed after Harry S. Truman’s whistle stop tour on trains. Obviously things have changed. With today's technology, there is no need for 24/7 advertising. Use C-Span or some other existing channel. Debates could be topical (in a sense they are now, but seem to always derail.)

The debates would be widely covered, and eliminate the need for the multi-state, multi-stop Rock Star tours candidates make. Since funds would be limited, more focus could shift to issue-oriented debates.

Host all state primaries on the same day. To a certain extent, we are moving more to this with “Super Tuesday.” But it would make more sense to have them all at once and get on with it.

Of course this is Pie in the Sky, because those who benefit (the candidates) continue to justify all the spending. The NPR story shares an anecdote about former House Majority Leader Tom Delay.

"There's not enough money in politics," Delay told a C-Span audience, "You know, Americans spend more on potato chips than they do on elections?"

Each passing election makes me want to turn the television off. And my spouse and I are huge political junkies. Debate night at our house is like the Super Bowl and the Olympic Opening in one. However, living at the junction of three states, we are bombarded with television and radio commercials for candidates from Indiana, Kentucky, and Illinois, and this year looks like will be no different.

Has anything changed in politics since “Nixon’s the One?” Well, there’s that business about the 24/7 news cycle. In 1975, we had evening news on three networks. Now with 900 channels, we have some other distractions like Weinergate or the lackluster economy if we want to ignore politics.

And yes, perhaps the biggest story of all received virtually no coverage. Were you aware that the Japanese government announced that three of the four reactions fully melted down after the earthquake and subsequent tsunami?

Heaven help us all.