Our View: The campaign season that wouldn’t die
Political campaigns in this country are akin to Frankenstein’s monster.
Constantly lurching forward and out of our control, present day American campaigns are in dire need of a mob bearing torches and pitchforks.
Of course, that’ll bring no positive results. Instead, much like in the book, we should recognize that this is a monster of our own making and try to learn something about ourselves from it.
We’re almost four months removed from the November midterm and the 2020 campaign season has begun. A host of Democratic hopefuls already have declared for the presidency. Closer to home, Democrat Audrey Denney — who ran unsuccessfully in the past midterm — has said she’ll again challenge Republican U.S. Rep. Doug LaMalfa for the 1st Congressional District.
This should surprise no one. Current Nevada County Supervisor Heidi Hall announced in December 2012, about a month after LaMalfa won office, that she’d face him in 2014.
Challengers must announce this early if they want any chance of raising enough money to mount a successful run. Incumbents typically wield an existing network of donors. Congress members have postage fees waived, meaning their names can constantly appear in mailboxes throughout their district.
It’s tough to defeat an incumbent who has name recognition, money, an army of supporters and the ability to mail tens of thousands of constituents for free.
This is the age of the never ending campaign. Our elected officials on the national stage barely have time to govern because of the nature of our politics. If you want to stay in office, you must constantly campaign for cash.
And the beast continues to lurch, its hands raised and groping for any donation it can grab.
This system causes plenty of issues, not least among them is that we don’t get the most qualified people in office. Those who excel at fundraising, or those already sitting on wads of cash, tend to attain and stay in office.
Sure, there are always exceptions to the rule. Dave Brat in 2014 upset establishment Republicans and defeated Eric Cantor, then the House majority leader. More recently Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez defeated Joseph Crowley, a member of the Democratic leadership.
These examples are rare. That’s why they stand out. They’re stories of underdogs going up against impossible odds and winning.
We can’t expect our government will be filled by these rarities. And even if they were, they’d soon morph into the exact never ending campaign monster we’re lambasting.
This country may never escape campaign season without end, but we can take action to lessen its impact. There’s no silver bullet for this creature. However, we can take little steps to avoid ourselves turning into a howling mob.
Involvement is the key, not with pitchforks but political participation. That involvement comes in different shapes and there’s something for everyone.
Political donors can contribute to their chosen candidates each month instead of only during campaign season. Hopefully, this would lessen the need for politicians to constantly fundraise.
Or we could publicly fund campaigns and eliminate, or at least reduce, the need for the constant ask our candidates impose on us.
We also could reduce the need for campaign dollars through free airtime for candidates. Much of the money raised pays for the endless stream of commercials foisted on us. Would candidates need as much money if television offered the same amount of time to everyone?
What ideas do you have? Send us yours to the email address listed below. Just maybe we can cobble together a new beast.
Some of these steps could help ease the shambling campaign season. Let’s choose the right ones, instead of making the same old tired climb that brought this monster to life in the first place.
Our View is the consensus opinion of The Union Editorial Board, a group of editors and writers from The Union, as well as informed community members. Contact the board at EditBoard@TheUnion.com.
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