Why Are We Already Talking About 2020

Michael Candelori/Flickr

The 2018 midterm elections happened only four months ago, but it’s pretty hard to tell based on political media coverage recently.

Look at any of the major news outlets and they’re all already talking about the 2020 elections. There’s speculations about primaries, discussions of candidate announcements, early polling, the whole thing.

The media seems to have a fascination with elections, and it’s not hard to see why. Elections have a thrill to them, a chance for change and to see how the people are reacting to the current political climate.

I’ll be honest, I like elections as much as the next guy. The 2016 election is one of the main reasons why I got interested in politics to begin with, but there’s a point where we’re focusing on elections a little too much, and this is it.

Danielle Kurtzlenen/NPR

According to NPR, the 2016 campaign season lasted 596 days from the first candidate’s announcement. With an election in the US every 2 years, there is an average of 730 days between elections, meaning that election season takes up over 80% of the time between elections.

The next biggest election cycle is Mexico, but it’s limited to only 147 days by law, making it over 400 days shorter than the US. And there are countries like Japan that are still functioning democracies while having an election season under 2 weeks.

Regardless of how much you like elections, you have to admit that the US’s election cycle is too long.

There’s also the fact that all of this hype is wasted. The first primary, the Iowa Caucus, isn’t happening for a full year, and the actual election isn’t for another six months after that. Americans have a long time before they can make any decisions regarding these candidates, making covering them so early a waste of energy.

Now, you might think that this is fine. After all, election speculation can be interesting, and it’s not like it’s hurting anything. Except, it is.

First of all, premature election coverage puts politicians in perpetual campaign mode. The primary job of politicians is to run our country, but in the current environment, they can’t focus on that. Instead, they’re forced to maintain a perfect public face so that they’re in good shape to get re-elected.

This results in the country being run by people who want to do stuff that looks good, not stuff that actually needs to be done, and that can have real consequences.

There are many issues the government has to deal with that don’t make good news stories, but still have a profound impact on the lives of millions of Americans, and politicians in campaign mode are less likely to address them.

Similarly, having the media constantly focused on the next election diverts the national discussion away from actually important issues and onto campaigns. Don’t get me wrong, who’s in government is important, but it kind of defeats the purpose when you don’t pay attention to what they’re doing.

While our representatives are in office, we need to be talking about the issues that matter to us. The media is a big platform for people to make their voices heard to the public and to politicians, and we’re taking that away when we have the media spending so much energy on elections.

So, everyone, stop talking about the 2020 election. We just had an election, which was exciting and dramatic, but now it’s over, and we need to get down to business.

The 2020 election will still be there in a few months, and we can begin talking about it when it’s time. Until then, however, we should put away the charts and flashy campaign videos and focus on what’s important: our government, and what it should be doing.