Owatonna, MN Correspondent-The biggest problem with election season is the party primary process. Candidates are forced to announce their candidacy more than a year in advance of the general election if they wish to generate enough money and name recognition to compete in the earliest primaries. In 2016 the first primaries were held on February 1, and the last were held on June 14. Many candidates campaigned for almost a year before the first primary.
Eliminating this long lead time between announcing one’s candidacy and the first primary would help reduce the endless barrage of campaign rhetoric. Compressing the primary season would also reduce voters’ exposure to all the negative campaigning. A starting point might be limiting the campaign season to the calendar year of the election. Candidates could announce their candidacies any time before January 1 but would be prohibited from purchasing any media ads, engaging in debates with other candidates, or appearing on nationally broadcast news programs or talk shows until January 1. Open campaigning could then take place from January through March. Primaries could be held from April through June and would be slightly more compressed than they are now.
One of the causes of the extended campaign season seems to be the desire of a few states to hold their primaries first. Rather than having the states decide when to hold primaries, let the Federal Election Commission set up a rotating schedule of primaries. This would allow each state to be at the front of the primary parade on an equal basis. Allowing states to trade primary slots with other states (similar to the drafting order in sports) would let Iowa and New Hampshire negotiate to be first, but wouldn’t guarantee that privilege.
Primaries could also be spread evenly throughout the time allotted so the coverage would be consistent but never overwhelming.
A two-week respite could be enforced from July 1-July 15 just to give the nation a breather before the party conventions. No campaigning of any sort would be allowed, similar to the restrictions in place before the start of the election year. After the conventions are held in the last two weeks of July, the general campaign would run only between the end of July and November.
In the internet age, communicating with an entire nation’s voters doesn’t need to take years of campaigning. The current system was developed based on train travel, limited mass media, stump speeches, and backroom negotiations between party bosses. If a few mouse clicks give voters all the information they need to know about a candidate, we can certainly limit the time needed for candidates to disseminate their positions on issues and plead their case to the voters.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-With the 2016 General Election just days away, the Presidential campaign will have gone on for over six hundred days. Considering what has transpired over almost two years, the voting public has grown weary of the unending display of “politics at its best” from the first announced candidacy in early 2015 to the summer riots and displays of despicable behavior by the media, party radicals, politicians and others that occurred in the months that followed.
Most other countries have limited campaign seasons that run on average just six weeks. With a highly organized and structured campaign system, instructive, informative and professional campaigns could be run and millions of dollars saved in a much shorter period of time.
Both the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Republican National Committee (RNC) need to reform the campaign process and shorten the time running up to the Primaries and the General Election. Those participating in their bid for both state and federal offices, including the presidency, should be allotted a certain period of time for organization, presentation, and delivery of their platforms and policies.
If there are trepidations and misgivings about candidates as to their fitness, capability and qualifications for office, those issues must be decided on before candidates are allowed to seek office and become part of a campaign. If charges, indictments or other implications are part of a candidate’s present circumstances, those situations must be weighed by the party committees and factored into the restrictions of the campaign process timeline.
Those candidates under suspicion and investigation must be eliminated from the running, long before the campaign season is in full swing. These kinds of situations must neither be the focus of a campaign nor should they be allowed to be part of a campaign, no matter the party or candidate. With strict candidate qualifications, those candidates with pending legal issues and actions that are connected to any former local, state or federal office or political appointment should be disqualified.
Though the 2016 campaign season may have gone on too long and suffered damages by planned opposition and other “smoke and mirrors” operations, there have been critical revelations that have occurred during this campaign season, which could have easily been waylaid or swept under the rug had the campaign period been shortened.
In order to avert troubling election occurrences that are unlawful, petty, dangerous and an affront to the American voter, election campaign seasons do need to be shortened to not only save millions in campaign spending but to give the public a fair and balanced presentation of those fit and qualified to run for office. The elimination of the drama, corruption, mudslinging and disinformation aimed at the American voter can be eliminated with a shorter, structured and organized campaign season plan of action by both political parties.
Gastonia, NC Correspondent-I’d love to give a one-word answer to this question, preferably in 24-point type, but my “YES!” would likely not inspire much discussion.
The amount of money spent on election campaigns in this country is appalling. Here in North Carolina, where we had hotly contested gubernatorial and Senate races on top of being termed a “battleground” state by the presidential campaigns, it became hard to find a cat food or car commercial on evening network TV in among all the political ads. The millions of dollars spent by the campaigns and the political action committees to sway our votes, most of which seemed to be devoted to collating soundbites and finding the worst possible photos of the candidates, ended up having a deadening effect on public sensibilities.
When you pile the interminable primary season onto the “finals,” it seems like we start one cycle two years before the actual big vote. I would be heartily in favor of limitations on both the primary campaign and the presidential run. I’d like to see a month of campaign activity before the vote, no more, with severe penalties for any party or candidate attempting to subvert that limitation. The primaries are a bit more difficult, with each state holding them at staggered times. Standardizing those would require federal meddling in state affairs, and my reluctance to allow that overwhelms my loathing of political advertising.
Concomitant with the limitation on campaign length, there have got to be some spending limits imposed on the candidates and parties. The more money there is involved in a campaign, the greater the lure for corruption. For this reason, I’d also like to see PACs banned from involvement in the campaign process. Their lurid attack ads do nothing to advance reasoned discourse, and add an unwelcome tabloid tinge to an already circus-like process.