2016 Presidential Campaign: America Is So Over It

In March 2015, Senator Ted Cruz told America he was running for president. His presidential campaign announcement was followed by 16 other Republicans, including current front-runner Donald Trump. The Democratic party’s campaign announcements began in April 2015 with Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid, which was followed by five others, including Bernie Sanders. Today, more than a year later, America is so over it — over the election, over the presidential campaign and over politics in general.

When the circus that is the 2016 presidential campaign season began, little did America know how quickly the campaign would devolve into madness. Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid was expected, and her position as both former Secretary of State and former First Lady made her the obvious Democratic presidential nominee. Enter Bernie Sanders.

Bernie Sanders took Clinton’s plan for a laid-back campaign season and tossed it out the proverbial window. For the past year, thanks to Bernie’s millions of supporters, the Benghazi disaster and Hillary’s decision to use a personal email server, her previously sure-fire presidential nomination is still anything but certain.

On the Republican side, campaign madness became a certainty when The Donald entered the race. Suddenly a quasi-successful real estate tycoon, reality TV star and certified loudmouth began getting all the airtime. The Republican presidential primary debates during the summer of 2015 left the GOP establishment nearly in tears, watching their chosen presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, flounder, as he couldn’t manage to get a word in edgewise when forced to share the stage with Trump.

By March 15, 2016, only five presidential candidates remained from both parties. Trump occupied the top spot on the Republican side, leaving Cruz and John Kasich to create a campaign scheme they thought would take him down — the opposite happened. By the first of May, the GOP, like it or not, was stuck with The Donald, forcing the establishment to start looking for loopholes in the party’s presidential campaign rules that would allow party leaders to choose an alternative at the convention.

On the Democratic side, things appeared a bit more civilized as the campaign progressed. Clinton and Sanders debated several times, and they both managed to maintain facades of presidential decorum. However, things quickly went sideways on the left because of the right. Suddenly, Clinton was under investigation by Congress and the FBI, and über-conservatives were busy trying to make social-democrat Sanders look like a communist.

Today, America is stuck in a political whirlpool, moving neither forward nor backward. The Democratic presidential nominee remains undecided, and the Republican race, thanks to Trump, is simply a campaign nightmare. Half of America is tired of the Clinton campaign and suspicious of Sanders’ policies, while the other half is terrified of the prospect of The Donald occupying the White House.

Now, I will not go so far as to put labels on either half of the American population, but I will say those who see The Donald as the American nightmare are over him, and because of him, they are over the entire presidential campaign process. Those Americans are ready for campaign reform. They are ready for presidential primary reform. They are ready for an end to the electoral college. They are ready for an end to party politics.

Those Americans have watched this presidential campaign turn the United States into the laughingstock of the western world. Truthfully, we are probably the laughingstock of the entire world, and if we are not yet the butt of global jokes, we know we will be if we are ever forced to refer to The Donald as presidential.

Our political system is broken, and without sweeping changes to the presidential election process, it cannot be fixed. First, the time has come for the United States to limit the length of its presidential campaign season, which will, if nothing else, stop sitting politicians from wasting half of their terms on the campaign trail instead of the doing the jobs for which they were elected.

Campaign reform would not just keep our politicians working, but it would save millions of dollars in unnecessary expenditures. According to a report on campaign finance published in The New York Times in late May, Trump, Hillary and Bernie have, together, raised nearly $570 million in campaign funds, of which they have already spent nearly $450 million.

While the amount in campaign funds raised by the top three would only give America’s 46.7 million living in poverty $12 each, if divided equally, not even the author of the report on poverty and food insecurity published by Feeding America could deny that a share of $570 million would make a huge difference to many of America’s poverty-stricken households.

Second, the presidential primary process needs an overhaul. Yes, I know New Hampshire and Iowa like the spotlight, but really? The United States is no longer connected by wagon roads and telegraph poles. There is absolutely no reason why every voter, on both sides of the party line, cannot vote in a presidential primary on the same day, putting a stop to the never-ending campaign season, while giving voices to voters in places like California and Washington, D.C., whose presidential primary votes rarely even count. I will simply say, “Ditto,” for the electoral college.

Finally, the time has come to bid adieu to our current political party structure. Trump’s rise to the top of the Republican campaign, Sarah Palin’s ridiculous 2008 vice-presidential nomination and Ted Cruz’s — well, just Ted Cruz in general — are three obvious indicators of the direction in which the GOP is headed. To put it simply, the GOP is imploding.

The Democrats might appear a bit less fractured, but Bernie’s strong campaign showing has proved that there is a division among those on the left that runs as deep as the division among those on the right. Half of the country’s liberals are as fed up with the Democratic establishment as their Republican counterparts are with the GOP.

Both parties need to recognize that, as Bob Dylan warned in 1964, “The times, they are a-changin’.” For most Americans, changes to the presidential campaign process cannot come fast enough.

[Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images]