Since it’s very, very, very difficult to go a week without writing something political (which becomes more understandable when you accept the fact that television, radio, smartphone, computer and microwaves, while invisible, are constantly bombarding my skull, resulting in a steady stream of shrieking, synapse-popping pollution of a sort that results in much more of an insidious collective overwhelming mind-fuck than vapor trails or swamp gas could ever hope to inflict), I will just remind you this week there are a few semi-sane countries in the world that don’t, repeat don’t, allow their national campaigns to devolve into the slimy, money-chewing slopfest that we apparently are now helpless to prevent, regulate or avoid.
Take, for example, Australia, which continually shows itself to be a somewhat civilized place. In Oz, federal campaigns are usually six weeks long. That’s it. As an interesting kicker, Australian law declares that voting is mandatory for all citizens over 18. And while that compulsory voting thing might sound pretty spiffy, I’m not so sure, especially after taking a look at the cast of jokers wandering around at your typical farmers’ market or Aces game. But still, on paper at least, the Ozzies look fairly together.
In France, candidates for the first ballot, which thins the field for the second and deciding ballot, get all of two weeks to campaign. Two weeks. That’s it. In the UK, the campaign period for prime minister is five to six weeks.
Compare these realities to ours, where we indulge in a full year rave-up, from July to July, just to figure out the two candidates, who will then get to torch a billion dollars apiece for three more months after that. This Slog of Inanity Insanity isn’t just brutal on us voters, but also for the people who are running for office. I mean, think about it. Ponder the physical and psychological toll running for POTUS takes on those who dare to jump in and go for it, people who are 68 (Hilary), 69 (Trump, who will turn 70 before Cleveland), and 74 (Bernie).
I mean, shit, I’m 63, and for me, a big day is four hours of yard work (I usually have to sneak in a quick power nap about 3), followed by 2-3 days of NBA playoffs, GoT, chips, salsa, boxed wine (cardboardeaux), and intermittent dozing. I can’t imagine the gruel grind it’s gotta be to have microphones and cameras in your face all day every day, where every word has the potential to be a campaign-ending gaffe, where every sentence can be a blooper that can cause a Twitter-storm, where every off the cuff remark has the potential to turn you into a laughingstock.
Ask Howard Dean, who dared to unleash a victory whoop one night and immediately had his pants pulled down around his ankles, where they remained until he was forced out of the race.