American presidential elections have become a political clown show cum soap opera that goes on far too long and has become a true danger to the country in a variety of ways.
On the simplest level, it used to be said that you could never get anything done in Congress in an election year. But now it’s always an election year. No wonder nothing gets done.
And that’s only the half of it, the easy half. Those other old political watchwords — that partisanship ended at the water’s edge — have gone out the window and are now headed for Alpha Centauri.
Conducting foreign policy for a democracy, particularly when dealing with totalitarians, is difficult enough under normal circumstances. But when a president can’t conduct those negotiations without numerous political opponents — many of whom are running for his job, not to mention their slavish media propagandists — breathing down (in this case) his neck, the opposition veers toward sabotage.
In election years, especially endless ones, the mutual enmities intensify. It’s reached the point that a substantial number of Trump’s domestic opponents would prefer for him to fail than for North Korea to denuclearize. How repellent is that! This is not to say that Trump will succeed. But it is true he is taking a more imaginative approach than any president in recent decades and a decent person would, at least, wish him well… but not, apparently, in a political year, that year that never ends.
Similarly, most of his opponents would also prefer Trump to fail in his negotiations with Xi Jinping than for the USA to have a good trade relationship with China with the consequent economic boom and positive ramifications for world peace.
Thanks too, in part, to Trump’s domestic opponents, Kim Jong-un and Xi Jinping, as well as any other leader with whom he might be negotiating, the Iranian mullahs, say, or Vladimir Putin, are watching carefully to see if the president will be reelected. Do they really have to deal with this man or can they simply wait him out? (Several Democrats have already quietly urged the mullahs to wait him out.). The result is America loses leverage and the whole world suffers. We are, still, the good guys, no matter what George Soros or the Koch brothers might say.
The length of our presidential elections only makes this situation worse. If you listen to the reactions of the myriad Democrat candidates to Trump’s various foreign policy initiatives, they are uniformly bad. This is exacerbated by the endless election because the Dems do not feel they can risk or are even permitted to say anything remotely good about what Trump might be doing. When President Trump meets with Kim at the DMZ, South Korean President Moon, who should know, looks pleased. The Democrats are appalled — or say they are.
In many instances, these Democrat attitudes have nothing to do with what they might really think is right (in the case of immigration, it has been shown that many Democratic leaders had exactly Trump’s view only a few years ago) but rather are entirely electoral politics-driven in the tradition of the great Groucho Marx song from Horsefeathers — “Whatever It Is, I’m Against It.”
Who loses in all this? The public, of course. In the endless election year (is it three out of four or four out of four?) the domestic issues of the country are barely resolved, if at all, and the foreign policy initiatives undercut and/or maligned.
It’s hard to believe, but the Iowa Caucus, the serious debut of campaign 2020, is not until February 3, 2020, a full seven months off. Are we enervated yet? Do we hate each other enough yet?
How about postponing the campaign until Thanksgiving and allowing the country and Congress to go about their real business? The British manage their campaigns in only 60 days. Maybe we could squeeze it down to, say, 180.
Roger L. Simon — co-founder and CEO emeritus of PJ Media — is an award-winning author and an Academy Award-nominated screenwriter. His new novel is coming soon.