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Election Season Goes On and On and On

Illustration+by+Paden+Chesney+
Illustration by Paden Chesney

Illustration by Paden Chesney

Illustration by Paden Chesney


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U.S. elections are long.

Very, very, long.

Ted Cruz announced his candidacy 596 days — over 19 months — before the ballots were set to be cast. In that time, you could walk nonstop across the continental United States in 19 months… 16 times. Swimming non-stop, you could cross the Atlantic Ocean from Europe to the U.S. nearly 14 times. You could drive from Kansas City to New York City about 795 times. And that doesn’t even include the time candidates spend funding exploratory committees, setting up for their announcement and more.

Being constantly barraged by phone calls, pamphlets, television and radio ads — along with the consistent flame wars on social media —  leaves people numb by the time the most important contest in the world (sorry Rio Olympics) comes around.

When students are assigned a long-term assignment, how many students actually prepare, research or finalize before it is due? The same basic principle applies to elections. The election does not seem relevant when it is nearly two years away, but when caucuses and primaries are occurring it feels like starting an essay the night it is due. Our collective interest focuses on the election just long enough to get through it, and then we do the exact same thing for the next election. Or primary. Or essay.  

Other countries do not encounter this problem. The 2015 national elections in the United Kingdom lasted 30 days, from April 6 to May 6. In 2012, France had just 13 official days of campaigning.

Apart from duration, the money spent on U.S. elections dwarfs the cash spent in the rest of the world. Political Action Committees (Super PACs) can funnel unlimited amounts of money into any campaign or any special interest group. This makes campaigning much harder for candidates who don’t wish to bend to the will of special interest groups or Super PACs.

Campaign finance reform is needed for two simple reasons: politics should be a level playing field and, as unnecessary to say as it might seem, corporations are not people. As “not people,” they should not be granted the same freedoms as citizens — especially at a time when people born on American soil are treated like second-class citizens (like those born in American Samoa). Corporations shouldn’t have the right of free speech (Campaign Finance Reform), freedom of religion (Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby) or any other right as they are not — nor will they ever be — people.

The United States election wouldn’t fit into a 13-day — nor even a month-long — timeframe, but it doesn’t need to. Our election process, transpiring over 596 days, is like a normal man wearing pants fit for an elephant.

There should be an official election timeframe with roughly three months for party elections and three months for the federal election. Enacting this sort of regulation would mean campaigning should start no earlier than May 1 in the year of the election.

Instead of spending an incomprehensible amount of time and an even more insane amount of money ($7 billion in the 2012 presidential election), someone should establish a federal time limit on presidential elections and a limit on the role non-people (corporations) have in the election.

Elections are for the benefit of the people, and should be decided by the people. Corporations should not be legally allowed to donate money in any form to elections, whether local, state or federal.

Even 26th President Theodore Roosevelt said, “Contributions by corporations to any political committee or for any political purpose should be forbidden by law.”

America is exhausted from long, costly elections. Let us, as Americans change that.

 

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The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest
Election Season Goes On and On and On