While candidates in the past election years have announced their White House bids in the months immediately after the preceding mid-term elections, no campaign has seen the flurry of electoral activity so far in advance of the general election.
The first Democratic candidates debate took place over eighteen months ago on April 26, 2007 in Orangeburg, South Carolina.Â (I don’t know why I remember the first such exchange being in Nevada).
The first cauci and primary were held a year before Inauguration Day, with the fields whittled down before the Tsuanmi Tuesday series of primaries and cauci.Â The candidates who, one year ago, appeared likely to be their parties’ standard bearers are not standing today.Â A Republican who trailed in all polls and whose candidacy was written off at this time last year has become his party’s nominee.
For all this campaign’s length, I don’t see it as becoming a defining election like those of 1896, 1932, 1968 or 1980 which reshaped the political landscape.
Never before have we experienced a crisis of the magnitude of the mortgage meltdown in the middle of a presidential campaign. That more than anything may come to define this election. When the candidates first debated, we all thought the Iraq War would be one of the most important issues of campaign. Now, thanks to the success of the surge, it hardly registers among voters.
All that said, I don’t think this campaign has served our nation well. It drew our attention away from the business of government, with the candidates (save John McCain on Iraq) posturing for political advantage rather than looking out for the national interest. We shouldn’t spend this much time electing a president.
Ths interminable campaign has proven more divisive than perhaps any other prior contest. The task now for the winner will be to unite the nation. And given the bitter feelings on both sides, that’s going to take some doing.