Can any of us remember a time when we could open a newspaper or turn on the TV to get news that wasn’t about this campaign? A time when we weren’t fatigued over the latest controversy or personal attack? Thanks to the insufferable length of this presidential election we’ve been deprived of that courtesy.
We’re all ready for it to end—and this is coming from a campaign junkie who loves this stuff.
Through this campaign process, the media has provided Americans with a never-ending stream of information on both candidates. Much of this has been about their personalities or character: Clinton’s pneumonia, Trump’s latest offensive comment, and emails, emails, emails.
Character counts in any election to determine leadership, but long campaigns generally don’t give the public any more insight into policy proposals any more than short elections do. Instead, long campaign cycles foster a narrative culture of slow bleeding rather than an honest debate about the policies that will move the country forward.
Shortening the presidential cycles would have a drastic impact on how we cover and run presidential campaigns. Instead of a slow drip of opposition research to fill a 24/7 news cycle, a shorter election season forces a discussion of policy and emphasizes a candidate’s governing capabilities. Other countries, notably, have done this, and they have shown us that a debate on the policies needed to address the major issues the United States faces can be done in mere weeks. Everything else is just noise.
Instead, our long election cycle turns this most important democratic process into a reality TV show, replete with drama, emotion, and characters the viewing public will tune in for. With 59% of Americans fatigued by this election, a shorter cycle will result in a happier electorate that is motivated to vote and engaged in important policy discussions.
Instead, we get a long drama that leaves us checking our watches at the theatre, desperately waiting for it to end. That’s no way to make nation-altering choices.