Sunday, November 13, 2005

Election Cycles Built for Two

Something I like about the US political system: set election dates. Leaving the timing of elections up to the party in power is pretty distasteful, and I'd love to see Canada get out of this silliness that only encourages a one-party state. Maybe I'm missing something, but can someone give me a sound reason why this is good for democracy?

However, one of the more infuriating aspects of US politics is the fact that the country is seemingly always leading up to a series of elections, which end of framing every political debate with even an incredibly minor amount of national significance. We've been hearing about the 2006 midterm elections being "just over a year away" for a few months now, and all political strategizing and punditry is built on how it will play out next November. So there's about 8 months of non-election-cycle governing every 2 years, if we're extremely optimistic about the behavior of political parties at the best of times (which we are decidedly NOT). The problem is worse when leading up to the big elections, given the lengthy primary process, so following the '06 midterms we'll have maybe 6 months before everything becomes part of the election story. So in total, your major political parties are spending 14 months out of every 4 years on the job of governing, and the remainder (34 months out of 48) in some version of campaigning. We're not going to stop this, but one way to help is to stop analyzing every political story through the lens of "how will this help/hurt the Dems/GOP/Rhinos in '06?" for over a year before the election takes place.

Which brings me to "my pledge, my commitment, my promise, and my solemn vow": I will not engage in the premature ejaculation of election analysis until 6 months prior to midterm elections and 8 months prior to presidential elections. Join me in giving the power brokers in Washington one less reason to spend all their time thinking about getting re-elected!


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