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The election is over … finally

Published: November 9, 2012
Section: Opinions


The headline doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of how excited I am that the election is over. While I preferred a particular candidate, by the time the debates began at the start of last month, I was ready for it all to end. This was not because I had already voted—I sent in my absentee ballot a week before the first debate—but because the election cycle had become rather long.

President Obama’s reelection campaign was a no brainer from the day he was first elected. Barring some major policy failure, it was clear that he’d be one of the two major candidates. Governor Romney also remained politically active after the 2008 election cycle, raising money for congressional candidates, publishing a book and commenting on—but mostly opposing—legislation such as the Affordable Care Act.

Since President Obama’s first term began, pollsters and news media dedicated resources to assessing possible GOP primary candidates. Seriously, almost three full years before the Iowa Caucus and New Hampshire Primaries, CNN published a poll on prospective 2012 nominees. Hell, less than a week after President Obama was elected—before he was even inaugurated—sites such as Zogby.com ran polls on expected candidates. What’s more ridiculous is that Newsweek ran a poll in October 2008, more than four years before the 2012 election, in which Romney won the most votes for the Republican nomination.

The problem is not that we have so many potential candidates all trying to get a leg up on their competition. The problem is that news media thinks three to four years ahead of an election is a good time to start drawing attention. Furthermore, the media can only do this because we the public buy into it all.

Four years ago, I wasn’t exhausted and sick of the election when November rolled around. While that might have been the excitement of voting for the first time, I like to think that in the last election cycle I was better able to avoid more of the hoopla than this time around. I’ve spent almost all of the 2012 election cycle at Brandeis, a college campus with quite a few politically active students. Even without my friends from the Democratic and Republican clubs all harping about their candidates, I was much less successful in drowning out the excess this time around.

Especially during my time in college, unlike in high school, and I expect, unlike in my eventual future career, I spent a lot of time on the Internet. Not only on the Internet, but also while watching TV during study breaks, the 2012 election has been front and center. During the 2010 midterm election, it felt as though half of the coverage was about how the outcome would affect President Obama’s next two years and the prospects for his possible reelection. As soon as the midterms were over, pundits and analysts kicked 2012 into high gear. While this had some benefits, such as the Daily Show’s latest special “Indecision 2012,” they were few and far between.

Once the GOP primary election season began, things were at least interesting. Primaries are fun because, at least from my perspective, one gets to watch a collection of aspiring candidates tear each other apart. It didn’t matter that it was the Republicans who were stuck spending time finding a candidate to unify around, a Democratic primary competition would also have been hilarious had they not had an incumbent to support from the beginning.

While the primaries were hilarious because, as usual, they expose weaknesses in their candidate and set up very amusing general election campaigns from June, or whenever a candidate gets the necessary delegates, until a few weeks before the first debate I avoid election coverage. Once it got down to the final two months, it became watchable again.

While the past couple months of the election had their interesting moments, such as Romney’s “47 percent” comment and Obama’s abject failure to respond competitively in the first of the presidential debates, I paid attention because it was a requirement for responsible voting. After more than three years of activity from President Obama and Governor Romney—barring an October surprise—I didn’t see much point other than to double check the candidates before filling out my ballot.

Only a few days ago, we elected our president for the next four years. It was a long, drawn out process. Some would call this whole extended process the American way and praise the fact that we regularly handle the transition of power smoothly and peaceably. Some argue that the election process is too long and drawn out for a multitude of reasons. One thing is certain, while I can spend hours, weeks, even months researching and paying attention to something interesting, the years that are necessary to follow an election from start to finish are past my tipping point. I hope that by the time this column prints we as a nation will have had a few days to relax before people start talking about 2016. Then again, who am I kidding? There’s probably already a poll for 2016 on the Internet.