Our education system is crumbling at our feet. We have serious human rights violations in Syria and around the world. The globe is running out of fuel, food and space. Healthcare is limited and cancer is becoming more common. With this in mind, I think the media is already investing too much into the 2016 election cycle, and this has to stop.
A CNN/ORC International poll released Monday noted that 65 percent of Democrats would vote for former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential race over candidates such as Vice President Joe Biden and Mass. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. The Republicans seem firmly split, with 17 percent supporting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and 16 percent backing Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan.
I will be the first to admit that I have wasted column inches before hypothesizing about the epic political showdown coming to a theater near you in 2016, but it is still time for a change. Allow me to give you a few reasons why.
First of all, no one listed on the poll has actually announced his or her candidacy for 2016. In fact, Christie is the only one of the top three who has publicly expressed interest. This is probably because the first primary is almost 27 months away. That’s enough time to have three kids, to take nine semesters of classes at BU, or to live through Kim Kardashian’s marriage 11 times.
Before the 2016 presidential election, there will be midterm elections where 87 percent of Congress will be up for election. Also, the Obama administration might do a crazy little thing called “governing” before it leaves the White House. I think that alone might provide plenty of conversation fodder So much can change between now and when the announcements start rolling out in January 2015. In a political system teeming with corruption and scandal (and not the good kind where Olivia Pope saves the day, either), it wouldn’t be that surprising for one of them to drop out of contention all together.
If the 2016 election cycle is anything like 2012, it will be tumultuous, completely based on momentum, and therefore incredibly hard to predict two-and-a-half years before elections even begin. Remember when Herman Cain was leading the polls for, like, a week and then dropped out shortly there after? Or when Michele Bachmann (the woman God ‘told’ to run for president) won the Iowa Ames Straw Poll? Little blips like these during the primary season can completely change the political atmosphere. It is a waste of airtime, brainpower, energy, column inches and so fort to try and predict who will be running in the general election.
Second, this continued media attention could have detrimental effects for the Republican Party. The poll showed that Christie and Ryan are basically tied, and if they both decide to run, the GOP will face a serious question about the future of the party. Christie and Ryan are about as far apart on the ideological spectrum as you can be while still maintaining membership in the mainstream Republican Party. Christie appeals to a larger group (no pun intended) of voters, including moderates and independents, while the conservative right is head over heels for the dashing young congressman from Wisconsin.
If the media continues to cover this horserace before the candidates are even entered, it could divide the party in two. Worst-case scenario, the Republican Party splits up and spends the election cycle deciding who gets the house in the Hamptons and custody of the kids. In that kind of political party divorce, there is no winner — except the opposition. Of course, this is hypothetical, but it’s entirely possible. If the media spends the next three years shaping up for a Christie-Ryan primary battle, there is no doubt in my mind that the GOP will have a serious debacle on its hands.
Finally, let’s take a minute to remember there are plenty of other things for the media to talk about. In the last week alone, there has been another mass shooting, a debate over action against Syria, bombings in Benghazi, Libya, and political two-stepping with Russia. And that’s just the stuff I stole off the front page of CNN!
Not to mention that all of these topics are significantly more important than debating who might possibly run for president in three years. Yes, the president has the most consolidated power in the entire government, but doesn’t this seem like a little bit of overkill?
As a nation, we need to take our foot off the gas pedal and enjoy the ride. The fast-paced nature of the campaign trail and primary season is exhilarating, but that’s not everything. Selecting our leaders is crucial to the success of our country, but if we spend all of our time deliberating over leaders instead of pushing them to govern, they will sink to fulfill our expectations. We all deserve more than that.
Sara Ryan is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences studying Political Science and Math. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org