It’s just under eight months until the general presidential election, but it feels like a neverending story—a neverending horror story.
Primary elections have been underway since early February, sometimes one state at a time, sometimes multiple states on the same day, engaged in a shell game to win a magic number of delegates. Not many people understand the mechanics of this particular carnival ride, but most of them are in agreement on one thing.
They want off.
The ride’s already gone on too long for some people. The Democrats are dealing with a tough two-way battle. The Republicans are fractured even further, although the ranks have thinned considerably in the last seven to eight months.
Every time you turn on the news, watch late night television, pick up a newspaper or go surfing the Internet, it’s all you see. What is the latest Hillary Clinton scandal? What fresh river of bile has spewed out of Donald Trump’s mouth today. The election has turned into the equivalent of an annoying sibling whose finger is half an inch away from your skin while he or she is saying, “I’m not touching you! I’m not touching you!” The physical contact is non-existent, but your skin is still crawling.
It’s hard to remember when the horror story actually began. The truth is, it seems like one presidential election barely ends before both sides take up arms to wage war on the next race. What makes it worse is that each state holds caucuses or primary elections at different times, dragging the debate out for months on who will truly be the candidates for the Republican and Democratic parties come November.
To me, it shows a broken system that drags out the suspense for far too long. For a few days or weeks, presidential candidates will swarm over your state like locusts, sending out their volunteer enforcers to encourage you to vote for their candidate, and then they leave your land to consume their next target. Don’t worry; they haven’t hit Wisconsin yet. Our presidential primary isn’t until April.
To further build up the pressure, many of the elections in the future are now winner-take-all events. Before now, even the candidates that came in second, third, etc. could still walk away with a piece of the delegate pie. However, states like Florida and Ohio, home base to Marco Rubio and John Kasich, respectively, have rules in place that the top vote-getters take all the delegates, leaving second best and those behind him or her out in the cold.
It seems like there should be simpler election system, at least for the primaries, that would turn the 24-7 election flash flood into something a little less suffocating. In local and state elections, most primaries are set to have the top two candidates—the ones who get more votes than the others—to proceed to a general election. The date is one day, not multiple and random days spanning several months. Presidential elections are unique—and they are flawed.
The atmosphere is unlikely to change, though, so until then, buckle yourself in and get used to the fact that the ride isn’t stopping anytime soon, and no one will be able to hear you scream.