If there is one thing we’re good at in this country, it is expanding things. From our waistlines and hamburgers to the NBA season, we know how to make things bigger and longer. Please note I do not imply necessarily better.
The Baseball Hall of Fame serves up a good example. In 1980, I went to its big induction ceremony in nearby Cooperstown — when they welcomed Detroit Tigers star Al Kaline into the Hall, as well as Brooklyn/LA Dodgers slugger Duke Snider.
They held it on a side lawn of the Hall of Fame. There were maybe 300 of us. You could shake hands with any baseball star you wanted to meet. There was one star for every 10 fans.
This year, more than 50,000 fans came to town for the induction ceremony.
Another example of American inflation is our presidential campaigns. Why, one of the Democrat candidates for 2020 opened his campaign three years and three months before the election. I expect that before long some idiot will take aim at that record.
Now why is it the Japanese can do the job in 12 days? It’s true, their presidential campaign runs just a dozen days.
Imagine a 12-day campaign for the White House. That is hardly enough time to flip-flop on any issues.
We used to say the candidates were in a horse race for the White House. Hell, horses can’t race that long. They can’t walk that long. How about a tortoise race? That is more accurate.
If you want to blame somebody for the start of all this, zero in on Jimmy Carter. He can handle it; he is that used to being blamed for things. He was the first candidate who turned campaigning into an occupation.
Carter announced he was running for president nearly two years before the 1976 election. He announced, and then virtually moved to Iowa. To sign up and build support for its early, early caucus. Iowa Democrats were still sweeping up from the last election. He arrived before they even knew they were going to have a caucus. Carter set up his campaign so early, that by the time the caucus came a lot of Iowans figured he was a favorite son.
Poor Jimmy. Even with a head start on the head starters he came in second to “uncommitted.” I bet some future candidate is out there now trying to change his name to James Uncommitted. Or to Sally None-of-the-Above.
Here is something to consider. Imagine telling your boss you are taking up a hobby. You want to keep your job and all its perks — while you spend a bit of time on your hobby. The hobby is running for the presidency. “I’ll only be tied up three years,” you assure your boss.
She wonders if you will be fully committed to your work during the campaign. “No problem,” you tell her.
This is what most of these candidates tell us. They are governors, U.S. senators, House members, and mayors. They tell us these jobs are absolutely and utterly essential, and nobody can handle them as well as they do. That’s why we are supposed to be grateful we elected them, so they say.
Then they take up this hobby of running for the White House — two or three years out. They spend 90 hours a week running for the presidency and all that involves. You name it: begging for bucks, speechifying across the fruited plain, prepping for debates, traveling, doing media interviews, and then more traveling.
And we are supposed to believe they are also working full time at their elected offices. Is it any wonder we don’t trust or believe politicians?
Try shenanigans like that with your boss. Let me know how you get on.
I suspect the real reason our campaigns are so long is that so many people make so much money from them. Gravy trains grow longer because people like gravy. The media gets to sell political ads for years. Thousands of people do nothing more in their lives than run campaigns. There is probably a degree program somewhere. What do you figure — a B.S. in B.S.?
From Tom…as in Morgan.
Tom Morgan writes about political, financial, and other subjects from his home in upstate New York. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org, read more of his writing at tomasinmorgan.com, or find him on Facebook.