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Saturday, Aug. 27, 2016

Long campaign cycle has negative impact

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Though the calendar says the next major election is still some 19 months away, you wouldn't know that if you followed the news. Whether on the national or the state level, the election season seems to grow longer as the years go by.

The national headlines were filled this week with a boring debate among the Democratic presidential hopefuls and the ups and downs of a host of GOP candidates. The candidates argue it takes a lengthy period of time for voters to get to know the candidates so a two-year, full-blown election cycle is within reason. I beg to differ.

In our around-the-clock news society of today, time can work against a candidate. The national media feeds on the minute details of the candidates until they find something to offend virtually everyone. We have this obsession with tearing down a candidate long before we enter the polls to cast our ballots. I fear that sets the stage for dissent once the candidate is elected.

On the state level, it's easy to see the battle brewing between incumbent Gov. Matt Blunt and Attorney General Jay Nixon. These two party loyalists find every opportunity to throw stones at one another. We can look forward to a year and a half of this daily sniping.

Do we learn any more of a candidate through this elongated campaign cycle? Little of substance, quite frankly. And everyone would agree that what we do learn is negative. There's just little interest in the positive today.

We should hold our elected officials to a higher standard than the man on the street. But if we seek perfection in any candidate, we'll be sorely disappointed. Unfortunately, it's the flaws that make the headlines.

I guess it's no wonder the American voting public has a massive case of apathy. Even those of us who work in this news business get increasingly sick of the daily dose of candidate news. I can understand why a casual observer of the political process tires easily.

I actually heard one television commentator say this week that a particular candidate was simply setting the stage for the 2012 election. And you wonder why we sicken of this endless stream of election fluff?

The day will arrive when our political process is much more about the campaigning than the governing. We may have reached that point already. And quite frankly, no one is served by this flawed process.

I don't care what Obama or Hillary or McCain are doing today. I want to know their positions much more than their character. What they say and what they will do sometimes are not the same. But how can we make these judgments when we are subjected to thousands of hours of words long before the crucial day arrives?

I'm looking for that white knight to arrive late in the process and promise what we all want to hear. By then, I will have completely forgotten the words said a year earlier. And I'll make my decision based on the final days not the early season.

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Michael Jensen
Michael Jensen