If you read or watch the news media, particularly the political press, you’ll see a lot of stories – even polling – about the 2016 Presidential race. You can’t visit any of them without seeing some story, column, or commentary handicapping the current contenders, and their prospects for getting through the primaries. It’s even a subject for many blog postings on various sites, as to why Candidate X has any chance, or who is the overwhelming favorite. If I were running a fantasy league for politics, I’m sure I’d be fascinated. In reality? I don’t care! Neither should anyone else who is politically aware and active.
Back at the end of 2011, I wrote a post about the “lack of enthusiasm” Democratic voters had for the 2012 election. Which was a “serious concern” in the media, but not to anyone else. Why? As I said then:
Let me jump back to this point in 2007. That year we had a lot of candidates announcing for the Presidency. It was open season on both sides. I was politically aware back then, and had a lot of discussions about the Democratic Party with people in the Party. Do you know how many people I knew were running in the Party? I knew the names of about half of them. I wasn’t even paying attention to it, instead the local elections were my main concern. Asking me how enthusiastic I was about the election next year would have met with a “Huh?” reply. I wasn’t.
Which is the stage most people are at, really. If you’d asked people in late 2005 to name the “favorites” in the 2008 election, almost all of them would have been naming … people who didn’t actually get on on the final ballot, if they could have come up with names in the first place.
But that’s not the only reason I’m not thinking of 2016. It’s not just that the election cycle (let alone primaries) are over 2 years out, it’s that right now it doesn’t matter! What matters is the 2014 elections! Why? Next year, many states will be electing new (or re-electing) governors. State legislatures are on the ballot. Every member of the House of Representatives. About 1/3’rd of the Senate. In short, what your state is going to be like to live in, and whether the national government is controlled by Democrats (or even functional) is at stake.
Think it doesn’t matter? Think about the past 3+ years. What has happened in states that went Republican, what has been happening in the House and the Senate. A constant assault on minorities, women, the poor. Legislative gridlock as a “norm.” Why did this happen? Because people thought the 2010 elections didn’t matter, or even worse, thought that they’d “send a message” by staying home. Many of those same people who are now busily writing long screeds about how awful the Republicans are. Funny, just a few years ago, you were saying it “didn’t matter.”
That’s why I don’t care about the 2016 election. I care about next year. I have a governor, state legislators, and a Representative to elect, and I care about that. I also care about keeping Democrats in control of the Senate and getting control of the House. The talk of 2016? It’s a distraction. It doesn’t matter now. What matters is next year. If you want to know what I think about the 2016 election, ask me in 2016. Then I’ll care. For now? I … don’t … care!