It’s still too early to predict the presidential race
Looking at the news, it would appear that we are in the midst of a presidential election. But in reality, the next election is one and a half years away, which is an eternity in election politics. We’re barely halfway through Obama’s second term and he’s already being pushed out the door.
This endless election cycle lessens the excitement of electing a president. It also leads to politics that are hyper-partisan, news that is sensational and an electorate that is misinformed.
There is no reason to pay attention to the presidential race this early in the game. Ignoring the race until it actually matters will make the outcome more meaningful and all of us less cynical about our government.
Not only is the endless campaign bad for national unity, but it also just doesn’t make sense practically. There are several reasons why such early attention to the presidential race is both inconsequential and harmful to the political process.
The most obvious reason why speculation so early in the race is trivial is that not one person has officially declared their candidacy to run. Nor will they do it soon. So it doesn’t matter what any potential candidates say or do right now because there are no candidates. While some potential candidates may be trying publicity stunts or meeting with donors, which are essential to getting a campaign going, these actions still mean nothing as of yet.
Secondly, there is so much time left before the election that nothing matters at this point. Literally anything can happen to change the game due to unforeseen events, changes in public opinion and the fact that electorates are often quick to forget certain things.
Past elections are full of examples of unforeseen events changing the election. No one could have predicted the effects of Mitt Romney’s 47 percent video, the damage Tina Fey’s impression of Sarah Palin had on McCain’s campaign or Howard Dean’s comical cheer bringing his demise. Each of these events contributed to these candidates losing their elections—whether any of these events were valid reasons for a candidate to lose is an entirely different matter.
Furthermore, in an arena where so many people are vying for attention, pseudo-events and sensationalism are bound to happen. It’s already happened a few times this early in the race. Take Rudy Giuliani’s recent statement that he doesn’t believe President Obama is patriotic. Such a scandal is doubly advantageous for Giuliani if he does run for the presidency because it enables him to get lots of media attention and credibility with conservative voters without hurting his chances with more moderate voters because, by the time the race is in full swing, hardly anyone will remember the scandal.
Another current example of a sensational event that will probably have no effect on the nominating process is the revelation last week about Hillary Clinton’s email account while she was Secretary of State. Even if she did violate the law by using her personal email, this will probably not have any real effect on her presumed candidacy since she is so well known, very popular among Democrats and, to come back to my earlier point, because even the early primary elections are so far away. Other events will get in the way that cause people to forget about this one.
With news media often struggling to find newsworthy events to fill time, it is no wonder that there is already focus on the next presidential election. The problem with this media attention is that nothing that happens now will have any consequence on the outcome of any election, not even the primaries.
We must wait at least until people officially declare their candidacies for office before we make any judgments about their actions or their intentions. Otherwise, the demand for sensationalism and cynicism will continue to grow. The issues that matter, such as what a candidate’s actual positions are, will be overshadowed by controversial comments that were deliberately said to gain attention. The presidential race has become too much of a popularity contest and less of a real election based on critical assessments of our nation’s next leader. To put it bluntly, the current climate of the presidential election is sometimes ridiculous.
There is an easy way to restore the dignity and the legitimacy of the presidential election, and it is to not pay attention to the race until a few months leading up to the primary elections, thereby blocking out most of the trivial, sensational hoopla.