The holiday season is rapidly approaching and, honestly, I don’t usually ask for much. This year I think I’m ready to make a bargain with God, family, and friends, however. I will gladly give up receiving any future gifts if the United States will take steps to legally ensure that an election year is, you know, just a year.
Younger voters have been exposed to these interminably long presidential campaign cycles for so long that they probably think it’s always been this way. It hasn’t:
— Andrew Malcolm (@AHMalcolm) November 24, 2019
Using an even more recent example, Ronald Reagan didn’t announce his 1980 run until November of 1979.
The primary season is long enough, with months of sham “debates” leading up to the Iowa caucuses. What makes it even worse, however, are months and months of candidate forums that lead up to the debates. It’s like adding a primary debate season onto the primary debate season.
Back when I was flying around to various political events all of the time, I was sent to New Hampshire in March of 2011 for a 2012 Republican candidates forum. On paper, it would seem as if I were the kind of person who would revel in the long process, as I was getting paid to make a lot of appearances at events like that at the time. By the time I attended an actual debate in September of that year, I was so bored with the process that I was almost hoping Canada would invade us before the election just to spice things up.
Stupid Canada, why don’t you ever listen to me?
There is no objective case to be made as to why these things should go on seemingly forever, especially in the social media era. We don’t come to know candidates solely through television forum and debate exposure anymore. Even if TV were our only option, we don’t learn that much. The debates are little more than a series of painfully canned and rehearsed lines that each candidate hopes will turn into a zinger. Andrew Yang has built an entire campaign on one insane economic idea and a few good one-liners.
One case that could be made is that the primary slog doesn’t do anything to improve the oft-discussed American voter apathy problem. Hardcore politicos are already numb at this point in the process. There is a very real possibility that regular voters who actually would like to be a little informed may be getting completely turned off.
This is a bipartisan gripe — I’m not bored because the Democrats are the party that’s out of the White House and going through a long primary; I felt this way in 2008, 2012, and 2016 too.
Could the electorate be more energized by a truncated forum/debate/primary season?
Is there anyone who would be opposed to finding out? OK, maybe some cable news execs, but it’s a safe bet that almost every breathing thing in the Republic would be willing to try some alternatives?
There are any number of ways to tighten up the process, but one obvious suggestion would be to simply not have the debates so spread out. This year so far, the Democrats have been getting together once every four to six weeks. Nobody needs that much time to analyze and absorb what happens in each of these nothingburger contests.
I would prefer something along the lines of weekly debates for just one month, or maybe a month and a half. Shorter prep time for the candidates would eliminate — or greatly diminish — the stiff, rehearsed talking points vibe of the current contests.
That would be an easy change to implement and, again, I will wager that very few people will complain about that.
If I have been reading everyone wrong and there are people who enjoy this mind-numbing nightmare, I will just move to an abandoned, off-the-grid mineshaft in the desert and read by candlelight.
I’m always open to suggestions. What do you fine people think could be done to make the primaries more interesting?
PJ Media Associate Editor Stephen Kruiser is the author of “Don’t Let the Hippies Shower” and “Straight Outta Feelings: Political Zen in the Age of Outrage,” both of which address serious subjects in a humorous way. Monday through Friday he edits PJ Media’s “Morning Briefing.”