It is the midst of winter here in the Northern Hemisphere…right now forecasters are forecasting their asses off about a major ice storm aimed at a hunk of the South. The days are still comparatively short, and with the cold weather that has accompanied a lot of rain in our part of the world (is the drought over yet?) I am not alone in looking for more indoor distractions until golf weather returns.
But, please God, not this: American journalism outlets and associated information-providing avenues, would ya stand down on the perpetualization of the campaign for president of the United States! Stop with the assumption that there is nothing more important to talk about, nothing so critical for me to know about, than who is favored and disfavored by people responding to public opinion polls. Even if those people are telling the pollsters the truth, who cares right now?! So much can happen in the months and months before anyone casts a meaningful ballot that these results are pointless; they only serve to keep funds flowing to the political-industrial complex.
It is too early. It is soooo tiresome. Even the primaries and caucuses that happen more than six months before the general election aren’t helpful in learning about candidates. The whole thing has become a proxy for the on-going national food fight on “cultural issues” (that really aren’t even about culture) and not about administering government operations or even on providing leadership on issues.
And, at this point a year away from the first voters voting in the next national election, what you are telling us has proved to be, so often, so very wrong. In Politico, Jeff Greenfield reminds us that in most recent years the “favorites” at this point do not win the contest. You remember Howard Dean trouncing John Kerry in 2004, right? And 2008, when Rudy Giuliani blew away John McCain while Hillary Clinton obliterated that senator from Illinois with the big ears?
The point here is not to argue for a vow of journalistic silence in the long slog leading up to the actual contests; it’s to put that part of the process into context, along with a serious dose of humility. Yes, Trump looks weakened, but are we really ready to anoint Ron DeSantis the nominee before he proves himself on the big stage? Yes, Biden is an octogenarian whose approval rating has been underwater since August 2021, but is anyone in his party really about to challenge his hold on the White House?
If you need something civic to worry about, worry about the government debt ceiling and the on-going budget deficits; give some thought to how our country can help our allies stifle threats from Russia and China; consider the real causes for and possible humane solutions to the humanitarian crisis at our southern border and the budget crisis it’s created for federal and state governments. You could engage in the speculation about which team will win the Super Bowl or who will be selected as the next head coach of your favorite NFL team. You could even talk to your friends about who will win The Bachelor, but please promise to do that verrry quietly so the rest of us can’t hear you. But please leave the next race for president alone for now.
And if you need something to keep you warm on these cold winter days and nights, curl up with The Columbia Journalism’s Review of how American journalism handled coverage of Donald Trump. There’s something here to warm the hearts of media-haters everywhere.