Along with all Americans, I am bombarded by the media with partisan rhetoric referencing the 2020 elections. While I manage to sift through most of the commentary in order to benefit from a nugget of real news, I am exhausted by the process. It seems to me that our representatives are primarily concerned with their reelection campaign, that begins almost immediately after their election. Members of the House of Representatives for example never stop raising money and campaigning even though for them the election comes every two years.
The founders who drafted Article 1 Section 2 of the Constitution undoubtedly had no idea that the campaign for a two-year term would continue without respite throughout the Congressperson’s length of service. U.S. Senators, after the passage of the 17thamendment, are required to run statewide and often feel the pressures associated with a prolonged campaign. Moreover, senators frequently find themselves concentrating on the forthcoming presidential election in support of the party’s nominee. Is it fair to ask, who is conducting the people’s business while those responsible are engaged in helter-skelter campaigning?
The campaign for the November 2020 election began almost two years in advance of the actual election. Various House and Senate committees are busy investigating and finger-pointing rather than debating the important issues of the day. The debate, if it has any substance, seems to be carried on in the public arena as part of the electioneering associated with the next election. Compromise has always been a part of the American legislative process and has served the American people well for over two and a half centuries. However, the negative campaigning has made compromise a dirty word. While it is important to put the issues before the electorate, is it not possible to make the campaigns shorter and less exhaustive for both candidates and the voters? I for one hope so.
Other democratic societies seem to be able to conduct their elections within a few months while ours seem to go on and on for years – never stopping. The expense is mind-boggling. Apparently, outsiders are meddling in and influencing our elections. Surely, that is a threat to our system of democracy. The longer these campaigns go on the more opportunities are available to our adversaries. By the time these lengthy campaigns conclude most of our elected officials are tarnished and smeared so completely that our confidence in them is eroded. Rough-and-tumble political campaigns have always been a part of the American political system and in general that is a healthy process. However, all civility seems to be lost in a world of email bombardment, tweets and social media. I look forward to a return to a positive and optimistic campaign. I am reminded of Franklin Roosevelt’s optimistic statement at the height of the depression “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Unfortunately, positive, optimistic and abbreviated campaigns are disappearing from the American experience.