The Never-Ending Political Campaign

The Never-Ending Political Campaign

© David Burton 2015

Election 2016

     “There are plenty of reasons to believe 2016 will be a very ugly election year.(Ref. 1) Political campaigning for the presidency in the year 2015 has already proven to be just that and it is only getting worse. Several questions exist about the candidates, about spending on the campaigns, on the duration of the electioneering, and on other factors.

     We Americans are suffering from election campaign overload. There is essentially no time when we are not being bombarded with some campaign news, candidate rhetoric, campaign advertising, or pundit pontificating. Election campaigning has grown into a year-round activity – a very expensive one. I, for one, am tired of it and want campaign activities limited in scope, duration, and cost. One writer addressed the interminable campaigning as follows: “A year of covering the 2016 race like this would fossilize my soul, and reading a year’s worth of analysis like this will drain all the precious fluids from my eyeballs.” (Ref. 2)

Reforming America’s Election Process

     In the United Kingdom, when the prime minister calls an election, it can take as little as one month to complete. In France, the national election campaign takes all of four months. Yet, the American presidential election process can take anywhere between 10 and 48 months. It was not always this way. “The very first presidential election in 1789 was fast and smooth -- electors voted in January and George Washington took office in April. For most of the 19th century, candidates were chosen by caucuses consisting of influential members of Congress, and party movers and shakers. If several candidates were at odds within a party -- as in 1860, when William Seward, Salmon B. Chase and Edward Bates were political rivals to Abraham Lincoln -- everything was worked out at national political party conventions where back room deals generally decided who would become the nominee. At that point, the campaign -- with candidates refraining from stumping themselves, but merely making statements or sending out surrogates -- would take place in September and October before elections in November.” (Ref. 3) Such is no longer the case. Instead, the election process normally starts at least a year-and-a-half before the actual election and, all-too-frequently, even as early as at the conclusion of the previous election. There is just too much time and money being expended on the current version of the American presidential election process.

     Israel’s election process has some interesting features which we here in America might want to consider for introduction into our own electoral process.

     Billions of dollars are wasted on election campaigns here in the United States. In Israel, "The State of Israel covers most of the parties' budgets and only a small fraction of party financing originates from sources other than the state budget.” (Ref. 4)

     According to Israel’s Party Financing Law, a treasury allocation for election campaigns is granted to the parties putting up candidates. Each party receives an allocation based upon a given formula.[4] This means that Israeli elections are primarily publically financed.

     The law concerning non-public financing, is extremely strict and limiting. No party can receive a political contribution, directly or indirectly in excess of a sum established by law. A political party or candidate cannot receive a financial contribution from someone who is not eligible to vote in the elections, such as foreign nationals who do not also hold Israeli citizenship. Corporations are also prohibited from making political donations.[4] Just think of the billions of dollars that would be saved if some form of similar laws applied to U.S. elections.

     Here in the United States, campaigning begins as soon as one election is completed. There is no respite. The electioneering is interminable. Television ads, radio ads, and print media ads seem to start the day after an election. In Israel, election broadcasts cannot begin until 21 days before the elections. “All election advertising is broadcast free of charge on television and radio, although the parties are responsible for preparing the advertisements at their own expense. Under the principle of equal opportunity, it is prohibited to purchase broadcasting time.
     "{Israel’s} Election Law contains strict rules regarding the timing, length and content of television and radio election broadcasts. Parties participating in the elections receive broadcasting minutes according to a formula set in law. Each is given a basic and equal allocation of minutes for broadcasts on television and radio. . . .
     “. . . Parties are also limited in the amount of election advertising they can print in newspapers.” (Ref. 4)

     What a relief it would be if American election campaign advertising were limited to just 3 weeks prior to the elections! What if campaigning of any form were limited to a month or two before the elections instead of the one or two years of electioneering that we now have?

     All state primaries and caucuses for the presidential nomination should be held on just one day throughout the country. This would stop the stupidity of the various states fighting over who will hold the first primary in the nation, and would force the candidates to present one unified message to all the voters in all the states instead of saying one thing in one state and something different in another state.

     Holding primaries on one day would stop the incessant arguments about the influence of states holding early primaries upon those states that hold later primaries. Each state would now be equally important.

     Because primaries would be held on one single day and campaigning would be limited in duration, campaigning would have to be done on a national basis instead of on a state by state basis. This would minimize campaign costs.

Reducing the Money Wasted on the Presidential Campaign

     It is estimated that the 2012 presidential campaign cost $2.6 billion, the 2012 congressional campaign cost more than $3.7 billion, bringing the combined total spent on the 2012 elections to nearly $6.3 billion.[5] There are a number of places where $6.3 billion could be better spent than on all the noise and bluster of presidential and congressional political campaigns!

     Besides, being an unnecessary waste of money, political contributions bring with it the threat of elections being “bought”. As one political commentator noted: “The flood of billionaire money unleashed by the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling threatens democracy by allowing an oligarchy to buy elections.” (Ref. 6)

     “At least one small slice of the American public looks forward to the non-stop, sleazy political advertisements set to inundate viewers during the 2016 elections: media executives and their investors.
     “. . . the chief executive of Tribune Company, said . . . that the next presidential campaign presents ‘enormous opportunity’ for advertising sales. Speaking at a conference {he} referenced Super PAC spending as a key factor for why he thinks Tribune Co. political advertising revenue will rocket from $115 million in 2012 to about $200 million for the 2016 campaign cycle.
     “. . . not everyone is unhappy about the billions of dollars being wasted on election campaigns in this country. The chief executive of Media General . . . told investors in February that his company is positioned to benefit from unlimited campaign spending, referencing decisions by the Supreme Court. ‘We are really looking forward to the 2016 elections with spending on the presidential race alone estimated to surpass $5 billion,
     “In 2012, {the} president and chief executive of CBS, memorably said, ‘Super PACs may be bad for America, but they’re very good for CBS.’
     “. . . In a February investor call, {he} predicted ‘strong growth with the help of political spending,’ particularly on television. He added dryly, ‘looking ahead, the 2016 presidential election is right around the corner and, thank God, the rancor has already begun.’
     “In recent months, executives from media companies . . . have told investors that they are expecting a big jump in revenue from the 2016 political ad buys.
     “The New York Times and Bloomberg have chronicled the rising political revenue to broadcast media companies, a trend accelerated by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which effectively removed limits on individual, corporate and union spending. . . . the 2016 campaign cycle is expected to be the first time digital advertising alone will reach $1 billion, making big money groups a lucrative source of revenue for online publications.
      - - -
     “In spite of declining television advertising revenue expected this year, credit rating agencies recently gave broadcast companies a sunny two-year outlook. The reason, {according to} Moody’s senior credit officer, . . . is that political ad spending is expected to boom next year thanks in large part to the Citizens United decision. ‘Political advertising revenue defies gravity', {he} remarked.” (Ref. 7) With more and more money being spent on campaign advertising, the citizens of America can anticipate being increasingly bombarded with political junk on television, radio and in the nation’s newspapers. Buying or renting movies sounds like a very good move for many of us. In October of 2015, more than a year away from the presidential elections, we are already seeing more and more campaign advertising on television.

What are Qualifications of the Democratic Front Runner (as of October 2015)?

     According to Reference 1, The Democratic front runner, Hillary Clinton, is running on a record of no accomplishments other than an “ability to weather various scandals and humiliations.” A focus group of Iowa Democrats was asked, “What did she accomplish that you consider significant as secretary of state?” “No one had an answer.” While Clinton supporters “said she knows how to get stuff done,” none could name anything that she’s actually accomplished. At this point in the presidential election campaigning process, one of her major appeals to liberal Democrats was the fact that if elected, Clinton would oversee the appointing of some 5,000 government bureaucrats. Quite simply, “If you’re a liberal Democrat, you want liberal policies implemented by liberal officials.” – Not by conservative Republican appointees! Hillary Clinton’s “record amounts to surviving scandals, many of her own making. Her most compelling selling point is that she’s a woman. And her strategists have decided she needs to energize the ‘Obama coalition’ of low information voters.“

     From my perspective, Hillary Clinton has four positives going for her in her campaign for the presidency: (1) she’s a woman, (2) she’s a Democrat, (3) she’s a liberal, and (4) her name is Clinton. Unfortunately, these, and not her accomplishments nor her abilities, are what liberal Democratic voters are applauding. Are these reasons enough to make her president of these United States? There was a time when proven ability and a track record of honest accomplishments mattered!

The Specter of Political Hanky-Panky

     One interesting charge being floated concerning the upcoming 2016 presidential election is that President Barack Obama is trying to effectively steal the election for the Democratic nominee.

     “According to reports, Obama’s federal government is trying its hardest to urge legal U.S. immigrants to become registered voters.
     “As . . . pointed out, ‘Almost all of them will vote Democrat, so you can see the motivation there.’
     “A former Justice Department official . . . agreed, saying that Obama is basically trying to use his federal muscle to ensure the Democrats maintain power come 2016.
     “ ‘What they’re doing is a full-court press on getting these aliens — 9 million of them — registered as citizens in time for the 2016 election,’ he alleged. ‘They are redirecting resources of DHS {Department of Homeland Security} to this effort, this campaign.’
     “Furthermore, an internal DHS Task Force memo . . . bluntly admitted that this whole move is being carried out for political purposes. . . .
     “The problem is that all of this is pretty much legal . . . “(Ref. 8)

     Could this be the real objective of the president’s recent immigration reform efforts?

The Republicans are Shooting Themselves in the Foot

     To some of us, it appears that that the Republicans are determined to hand the 2016 presidential election to a very mediocre Democratic candidate, Hilary Clinton, who is carrying a ton of baggage into her campaign for the Oval Office. Their leading candidate in an overly crowded field of Republican nomination seekers is Donald Trump, who many Americans, Republicans included, view as a bombastic, egotistical loud-mouth who is unelectable. No other of the more than a dozen current candidates stands out from the crowd. On top of that, the Republicans are publically squabbling over issues that divide the ultra-conservatives in the party from the more centrist and main-stream members of the party.

     With respect to Donald Trump, there is a notably high number of potential voters who view Trump unfavorably and say they would definitely not support him.[9]

     “Trump's bombastic, controversial statements could also derail the entire debate or cause headaches for his GOP rivals for the nomination by forcing them to answer for his views. Trump's latest fiasco -- he said that some Mexican immigrants were “rapists and criminals” -- is only the latest example of the threat he poses to the party.” (Ref. 9)

     Moderate Republicans are publically fighting with conservative Freedom Caucus members of the party. Because of the conflict, John Boehner has resigned as Speaker of the House and there is now a heated and very public debate over who will succeed Boehner. This conflict may well prove disastrous to the Republicans in next year’s presidential elections if they cannot unite and put forth a strong candidate – time is fleeting. As a result the next twelve months could prove to very tedious and contentious for the American electorate, and for Republicans in particular.

Some Suggestions for Reforming the Presidential Election Process

     I recommend:

  1. Limit pre-primary campaigning to the 3 month period from the 1st of June until the 31st of August
  2. Hold all state primaries for the presidential nomination on one day in September - Labor Day
  3. Limit campaign spending by any candidate to a total of $10 million and adjust that amount every four years for inflation
  4. Permit campaign contributions from any and all sources with no limit on any single contribution, but only permit campaign spending by the candidate
  5. Make election day a national holiday.
  1. A record short on accomplishments, Jonah Goldberg, Boston Herald, Page 17, 26 May 2015
  2. Ignore the Cynics: 2016 Is an Extremely Important, Exciting Election, Brian Beutler, New Republic, 23 April 2015.
  3. Why Do Presidential Elections in the USA Take So Long?, Joseph Cummins, Demand Media,, Accessed 20 October 2015.
  4. FAQ: Elections in Israel, Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Accessed 26 May 2015.
  5. The Money Behind the Elections,, Accessed 27 May 2015.
  6. “I’ll sit out the 2016 elections”: really?, John Bachtell, People’s World, 7 May 2015.
  8. SPREAD THIS: Obama’s Plan to Steal the 2016 Elections Just Got Exposed [DETAILS], Conservative Tribune, 19 May 2015.
  9. Congrats, America! Donald Trump Is Now A 2016 Presidential Front-runner, Igor Bobic, Huffington Post, 2 July 2015.


  30 October 2015 {Article 236; Politics_29}    
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