Perils of Jumping the Campaign Gun

It’s early April and over a year and a half away from the next presidential election, but already, the announcements for campaigns and candidates are rolling in.
With Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Hillary Clinton announcing over the last two weeks, “campaign season” has officially begun, and we must prepare ourselves for 20 months of advertisements, debates, emails, tweets, Facebook groups, flyers, posters, bumper stickers and everything else that comes with a presidential election.
Everyone at some point feels a slight — if not a major — annoyance at the ferocity with which presidential campaigns take over the media and public discourse.
Even if you pay little or no attention to politics, there is no escaping the Internet advertisements and lawn signs for different candidates who have already begun showing their faces.

However, more than affecting our daily lives as college students, the earlier and earlier start to presidential campaigning actually has a huge effect on politics and the way that our country is run.

Let’s look at the first two official candidates for 2016 as an example, senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Both of these candidates are first-term Senators, and Ted Cruz was only just elected to office in 2012

Now, I am by no means saying that this prevents them from being candidates. President Obama was a first–term senator of only four years before he launched his successful candidacy. It simply means they are just getting their start at being successful legislators.

Regardless of one’s political leanings, everyone can understand that only a few years on the Hill means only a few years of learning how to work in the Senate and the legislative branch. Because of their campaigns, two years of these senators’ first six in office will be spent running for president.

This means that Texas and Kentucky will have one working senator for the next year and a half.

What has become the usual early start to presidential campaigns likely means worse governing. For the next year and a half, candidates who are still in office will be physically unable to devote the much–needed attention that their jobs require.

This would be fine if the campaign itself was shorter, even six months shorter, but for close to two years, if you count creating exploratory committees and starting fundraising, these senators, representatives and governors will be pretty much ignoring the jobs they were elected to preform in the first place.

Beyond this, the political ramifications of waging national campaigns prevents politicians from effectively representing their local constituents in favor of appealing to a national audience.

Even those politicians not running will be making the rounds, giving endorsement speeches, commenting on debates and spending time they could be using negotiating in Washington, D.C. talking on CNN, MSNBC and FOX morning shows about negatives of the other side’s candidates and parroting the talking points of their own candidates.

As a result, the longer campaign represents a focus on politics at the cost of policy.

So, if you are sick of the partisan, gridlocked and bickering city Washington has become over the past years, ready yourself for an even worse year and a half.
Officials not only will refuse to get things done because of politics, but they won’t even have time to pretend that they are trying to solve the problem.

Presidential campaigns are fun; they get the nation involved and enthusiastic about politics, and they reinvigorate people’s hope in a new and better government.
But, in the meantime, they hurt us because campaigning means not governing, and not governing means nothing is getting done.

Josh Dostal is a sophomore in the College.

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