(*This is part 1 of a multi-part series. For an explanation go here http://wp.me/p6l1KT-Oi, for other posts in the series click on the “A Republic If You Can Keep It” category at the bottom of this post.)
The U.S. Presidential campaign season lasts 21 months, or 44% of the time the winner will actually serve as President!
We need almost 2 years to determine who to vote for? No other country does this. Not just today, but ever. No country in the history of the world has ever needed 2 years to elect its next leader. And we do this over, and over; every 4 years!
As recently as 1840 the entire Presidential campaign lasted 5 weeks, from October 30th to December 2nd. Do you want to know something else about the 1840 campaign? It’s the first time any candidate for U.S. President actually campaigned for the office. In the year 1840 William Henry Harrison was the first person to actively campaign on his own behalf in pursuit of office. Campaigning on one’s own behalf was considered unseemly, desperate, egotistical.
Somehow our nation managed to elect competent, often great, Executive leaders with only 5 weeks or fewer notice (and this was before there were telegraph wires spanning the country, let alone 24/7 news channels piped into people’s homes), and without even hearing from the candidates themselves! Even as recently as FDR, candidates did not actively campaign until after the convention. That’s right, AFTER! It was considered unseemly, desperate and egotistical to ask to be nominated.
Are there any British Prime Minsters you admire; Churchill? Thatcher? Major? Blair? Guess how long election season is there? One month. 4 little weeks. Germany? 6 weeks. France? 2 weeks. Canada? Has to be at least 36 days, but 11 weeks is the record so far.
It’s not apples to apples comparing the U.S. to other countries, but put yourself in the winged-tipped oxfords of a voter in England or France or Canada reading about the U.S. elections in your daily issue of Der Suddeutsche Zeitung. It doesn’t make us seem very attentive.