By Caitlin Walsh, Columnist
This week, president Obama filed his papers to run for reelection.
Nov. 6, 2012 is still 19 months away. That is 580 days.For every one of those days from this point onward, politicians will be strategizing and spreading their message in preparation for Election Day. It doesn't matter whether they are Obama, or are one of his numerous potential Republican opponents. They will form exploratory committees, amass signatures, generate press coverage and build websites. Here we go again.
When an incumbent President decides to run for a second term, his party generally doesn't field any other candidates to run against him. Call it solidarity, no matter how well or how poorly the incumbent is doing. The Republican Party seems to be fielding more than the usual number of potential candidates, each sure that they are the only one who can successfully defeat the incumbent president.Eventually, through a grueling series of caucuses, primaries and conventions, the field of many is narrowed to one candidate for each party.
Just when the American people have had enough of all the debates, the drama, and the inevitable mudslinging and cries for mercy, Election Day comes. It is the second-biggest unofficial holiday, after Super Bowl Sunday. We've had enough of the carnage, yet we can't look away until we know it is officially over and that one candidate is finally President Elect while the other limps home.
During this particular electoral "pre-season," several names are already circulating the news. Sarah Palin is a hub of speculation, as it is unknown as to whether she will throw her hat into the ring. If she does finally announce her candidacy, she won't be alone. Recently Michele Bachmann, who gave the Tea Party response to the State of the Union, was on the front page of The New York Times. Mitt Romney, who was unable to secure the Republican Party's nomination in 2008, has also been in the news as a potential candidate.
Perhaps the biggest surprise is billionaire Donald Trump. In March, he appeared on numerous television programs during which he was eager to rag on Obama, questioning his citizenship as well as his religion. After Trump gave a talk at CPAC, the annual conservative activist conference, a poll conducted by CNN showed public opinion of Trump ahead of Obama's by two points.
Our election process is hindered by its rumor-based system. Before anything is official, the news media feeds on speculation and gossip. If the people decide to reform the system, then we should consider forcing potential candidates to wait until at least July of the year before election to announce their candidacy. They would have approximately six months to prepare for the start of primaries, and about a year until convention season. Campaign war chests would hopefully shrink as candidates would have less time to fundraise and spend money. Most importantly, there would be less time for the race to get dirty with mudslinging.
If this sounds like a good idea, then it probably will never happen. One can dream.