07 August 2008

I Hate the President

The next one, that is.

This is the really bad effect of the long campaign season--candidates have to talk too damn much and they keep having to answer questions. Before a candidate becomes president, the media demand that they have a proposal for dealing with every imaginable political issue. Once the person becomes president, however, they deal with a set of issues that is a combination of those personally selected and those that are simply unavoidable, but they don't have to talk about all the others.

And it's inevitable that all that talking is going to cause them to say things that diminish our confidence in them. Nobody is going to agree with them on all issues, nor does any one person have the best answers to all issues. (As a consequence, I am consciously relying on heuristics to determine my vote this time around, as the more I think about the candidates' positions the more confused I get about my preference.)

And of course it's a real pisser for whomever gets elected, because he'll have no honeymoon in office--none at all. We already know him too well to give him the benefit of the doubt for a while.

If we could compress our campaign season, this problem would largely solved. Unfortunately, the front-loading of the primary system is a classic case of individual rationality resulting in collective irrationality. There's a good solution being floated--rotating regional primaries--but no good mechanism for moving the states toward it.


James K said...

New Zealand's campaign season lasts about 6 weeks, that's generally all the notice you get before the next election date.

The constant talking thing really bugs me, after all, its not like what they say has a lot of value. That's why I was quite enamoured of Alex Tabarrok's competition proposal for judging presidential candidates he offered a few years back.

James Hanley said...

Unfortunately the candidates have to talk constantly. I suspect they'd like to get the damn thing over with, too.

But under our constitutional system, each state determines its own primary date, and the struggle for influence naturally leads them to try to leapfrog in front of each other.

As much as it results in me being sick of the candidates, it's not really the candidates' fault.

James K said...


Perhaps the way to fix it would be a constitutional amendment that forbid the states telling the parties when to hold their primaries, after al they're private organisation why should the government get involved?

Then the parties could clamp down on the one-upsmanship. The response to Florida and Michigan moving their primaries suggests they are getting a bit tired of it as well.