A State of Endless Election Campaigns Breaks Our Brains

ElectionsWhite House American Democracy
A State of Endless Election Campaigns Breaks Our Brains

U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak called for a national election on May 22. A mere 44 days later, his Conservative Party suffered the biggest defeat in its nearly 200-year history, and he stood in front of 10 Downing Street on Friday to announce his resignation both as PM and as Tory leader.

French president Emmanuel Macron also recently called for snap elections, following his party’s poor showing in European Parliament polls — on June 10. Though another round awaits, that election began the very same month, on June 30; Marine Le Pen’s far-right party emerged largely victorious, though hundreds of candidates have dropped out of the runoffs in an attempt to keep the National Rally out of power.

Sounds like a complicated process! The next round of voting is on Sunday. Then it’s over.

Meanwhile, the American press is now in week two of an ongoing meltdown/party over an aging president’s poor debate performance and the apparently orgasmically exciting potential for the Democrats to switch out their candidate a mere [checks calendar] 123 days before Election Day. That candidate announced his official bid to retain the presidency on April 25, 2023 — 437 days ago. His opponent, who is also old and often cannot speak in complete sentences, announced his own candidacy 160 days before that, almost a year and eight months ago. This single presidential campaign is now well into toddlerhood.

This is, of course, nothing new, but it is an absurd way to handle elections. Voters in this country are forced to steep in campaign coverage literally forever; Trump’s announcement came after the dust had barely settled on the 2022 midterms only two weeks earlier. Things a president does months into his term are often covered in terms of their effect on the next election, more than three years away. I don’t have any particular way to quantify this, but I am convinced: The endless campaign drives us all insane.

If it is always campaign season, every story is a horse race story. Every policy maneuver is an election maneuver, every speech a campaign speech, every flubbed word a voters’ red flag. It sucks!

This is literally the only country that functions this way. Comparisons with the U.K. or France are of course not apples-to-apples, given parliamentary systems and party leadership vs. presidency and so on, but pretty much any other country manages to announce and complete an election within the time it takes to, say, grow a fruitful tomato plant. Canada’s elections can’t last more than 51 days. In Argentina, political advertising can’t begin more than 60 days away from election day. Mexico’s presidential election this year began on March 2, and Claudia Sheinbaum emerged victorious on June 3.

Obviously, this particular genie is not finding its way back into the bottle here. We can only watch with envy as campaigns in other countries start and end in the time it takes the U.S. to hold one quarter of its primary season, and look forward to March 2025 stories about the best 2028 candidates.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share Tweet Submit Pin