Elections length are just too darn long

By Parker Happ

It seems that you can’t open a newspaper, magazine, or turn on the TV without hearing some sort of election coverage. Pundits and members of the news have been flocking to political meccas like New Hampshire or Iowa to cover the day-to-day politicking of 2012’s batch of talking heads. After the dust of debates clears, journalists go to work to construct how the day’s arguments panned out as far as workable news and thus the system lumbers on.

In today’s technology driven age, the Internet has sped up a process that in a horse and buggy era used to legitimately take one year. Elections just aren’t what they used to be.

Elections have fundamentally shifted in how they are run and interpreted. Candidates spend an entire year on the road, stumping the same speech, event after event, “inspiring” their electorate. There was a time when things were different.

Abraham Lincoln had a differing opinion about how campaigns ought to run. Just three days before his pivotal 1860 election, Lincoln was corresponding with a dissident to his conservative message. In a letter to the editor to the Louisville Journal, George D. Prentice, a Stephen Douglas supporter, said Lincoln promoted the idea and importance of, brace yourself, SILENCE!

Evidently, Mr. Prentice asked for Lincoln to “set forth his conservative views and intentions” as President of the United States. Lincoln replied that writing such a letter would be a very worthy suggestion, “but would it do any good?”

“If I were to labor a month, I could not express my conservative views and intentions more clearly and strongly, than they are expressed in our plat-form, and in my many speeches already in print, and before the public. If what I have already said has failed to convince you, no repetition of it would convince you.”

Could you imagine, three days before the 2004 election, with as much confusion the country faced after Iraq, Afghanistan, Sept. 11, and economic uncertainty, George W. Bush being asked by a reporter a question of his policy and him saying, “check my website.” The answer to this well-constructed rhetorical question is “No.”

Elections are now far too much about hype delivered from the media to the hungry gossip ear of the American people and not the overall importance of constructing sound policy and talking about the issues.

Let me ask you this: Think about Bush/Cheney highlights on the 2004 campaign trail; would you more likely remember Bush’s stance on solving the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq or that Bush, Dick Cheney and John Kerry were all distant cousins? How about in ’08 when President Barack Obama and Cheney were also found to be distant relatives?

“The media is motivated by ratings and money and that ruins their credibility,” said transfer student Jeff McDougall.

It would seem the media spend more time researching the genealogic history of candidates instead of reporting their voting history.

So what do we do about our broken system?

Reporters and producers alike know that sensationalist stories will sell, sell, sell. Sensationalism is why you remember Bush and Cheney being relatives. It’s why HLN can stay afloat for six months reporting one story.

You are a college student; study up on politics as you would chem or stats homework. Become informed about how your elected officials are elected and you will soon realize that after $1 billion was spent in 2008, is what the country spends really worth what we’re getting?