2008 is an election year. The election is still 10 months away and 2008 is only 15 days old, but the campaign for President is already in its second year. If this were an episode of Star Trek, these facts would probably point to some sort of gap in the space/time continuum. But this is politics, so nothing that normal and mundane will do.
Nope, we’ve done this to ourselves. Through a childish competition between the states to have the first primary or caucus in the nation, and an even more childish competition between about 25 assorted nuts who think they would be just perfect to run the entire world (and who have thought so since about first grade), we have now turned our country into the Planet Politico — a living Hell in which everyday is a campaign day. (Actually that sounds like an episode of Star Trek as well, “Captain’s log: we’ve entered orbit around the Planet Politico, a bizarre living Hell in which every day is campaign day…”)
And here on Planet Politico every campaign day is covered in nauseating significance-free detail by a cacophony of 24-hour news outlets so desperate for material to fill the insatiable format that they will gladly give air time to an advisor to the manager for the Dennis Kucinich campaign, if that’s all they’ve got. He might talk about Darfur or he might talk about the contribution of UFO emissions to Global Warming, but either way it will fill the 43 seconds between Tucker Carlson and an “update” on the Young Female disappearance case of the week.
I call the competition between the states “childish,” but in fairness there is an aspect of it that is understandable. The early contests are enormously important in the minor matter of determining who gets to pick the leader of the country. Traditionally, this has always been Iowa and New Hampshire, which had their contests earlier than the other states because at the beginning of each election year they would look at their respective to-do lists for the entire year and see “To Do: 1) Organize election. 2) Wait to die.”
Thus, they each would hop right on the election thing. Other states would have more to do, so they were always putting the election off a few weeks, until somebody noticed that two tiny states with nothing to do were picking the president while Florida and Texas and New York and California were busy developing swampland, drilling for oil, trading stocks and making pornography, respectively.
This made big self-important states mad that they were so big and important and yet they were having their influence lessened by people they believed to be odd and unimportant. I know exactly how these states feel every time I get behind an ancient subcompact covered in bumper stickers that say things like “The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth — Fake Indian Chief” or “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind — Actual Gandhi.”
Here I am, stuck in a democracy with this nut, whose vote cancels mine out exactly — despite the fact I am big and self-important. OK, I’m not that big. But I pay a LOT in taxes and I am at least smart enough to know you look like a freakin’ idiot for putting a “Buy Local” bumper sticker on a Japanese car. Also, what’s with the “Free Tibet” thing? Who are you trying to reach with this bumper sticker? Do you think the leader of China is gonna get stuck behind your Honda one day on I-93, look up at your bumper and think “Oh, FREE Tibet. Of course, that’s been the right thing to do all along. Get Richard Gere and the Dalai Lama on the phone, I’ve got an idea!”
Anyway, New York and California are swerving down the fast lane talking on their cell phones each morning and then, when it comes time to pick a President, they look over at the little subcompacts called Iowa and New Hampshire and there sit John McCain and Barack Obama in the passenger seats begging like little kids who have just seen the bag of candy Mom hid up on the top shelf. And the big states thought, “John McCain should come talk to me instead. Aren’t I big and important enough to lie to about illegal immigration?”
Plus, all those medium states are self-important as well, and all the small states were inspired by New Hampshire and Iowa to try to seem more important and so everyone moved up their primaries. New Hampshire and Iowa responded that the Earth could very well implode if they didn’t go first (they had forgotten that it all traced back to a sparse To-Do list) and so they moved things up too. By the time the “ME FIRST!” “NO, YOU WERE FIRST LAST TIME!” debate between adults was finished, Iowa was holding it’s 2008 caucus in 2007 and New Hampshire had a law on the books that said that no matter when any other state held their primary, the NH primary would be the week before, even if that meant the primary had to be held before any of the voters were born. NH may hold the 2016 primary next week, just to be safe.
Into this mix fell the typical candidate. Typical candidates are not like me. I wake up at 5:28 am with a full bladder and then — and only then — do I remember that I promised Jed an article today on long election cycles or the Bataan Death March or something. No, candidates are planners. They plan for this year like 6 years ago and they have been planning to rule the world longer than Sheldon J. Plankton from “SpongeBob Squarepants.” In other words, they are anal retentive, obsessive compulsive, self-aggrandizing control freaks. This is who we have set up our system to select for in the age of the two year election.
Anyway, they see that early is better, and so in January 2007 some guy announced he would be our next President, in 2009. I think his name was Veal Sack. Obviously, he was eclipsed in the minds of the voters at some point.
And that’s how election 2008 became the Bataan Death March of elections. It’s a political marathon. It should be noted that in the first marathon, the guy ran so hard that he died right after the finish. He just ran into town like a crazy person from all the exhaustion yelled “Nike!” and died. And that could be how the next administration goes. The winning candidate will be so exhausted and nutty by the finish that after the swearing in, all he will have the strength to do is shout a few corporate endorsements and then die. Which will really open up the field for election 2012 — and just in time!