I have to admit, it’s tough re-engaging politics after returning from a much-needed vacation earlier this week. I’m a believer in grappling with reality in all of its ugliness as the only way to understand the country and promote progress. Still, there’s something to be said for the cleansing, restorative effects of covering one’s ears against the onslaught of noise for a moment.
It’s hard to shake the sensation of diminished engagement returns, particularly with regard to the 2016 Presidential election. This shit show has been going on for OVER A YEAR, and while the lion’s share of buffoonery has occurred over in Camp GOP, it’s not as if the Democratic Party has held hands in unity. Bernie and Hillary, long lauded for their relative civility and campaigns of ideas, have degenerated into the kind of ill-tempered sniping that causes voters and pundits to yearn for the decisiveness offered by nominating conventions. The two most pedigreed politicians at the podium accusing each other of being “unqualified?” Change the channel please.
It appears I’m not alone in my surly pivot to election fatigue. In a column entitled, Campaigns of Ultimate Disappointment, New York Times Op-Ed writer Charles M. Blow observed:
“I’m already completely exhausted by this presidential campaign season. The candidates seem to share that fatigue. Nerves are fraying as story lines grow stale…We are just watching cars crash in slow motion.
That’s boring. There is a tremendous political media infrastructure whose job it is to make this sound like it’s still interesting, fascinating even, but it’s just not. It’s boring.”
Blow’s repeated use of the word “boring” might suggest a desire to be better entertained, but I take his point completely. After pulling an all-nighter or ingesting a drug that causes all synapses to fire at once, more stimulation is not required. Just some good old fashioned peace and quiet.
Almost needless to say, the 2016 election cycle is an unusual exercise in taxing the limits of our collective attention span and patience with crazy behavior. It’s no surprise that certain members of the media are ready to move on with the general public. But when the money gets disenchanted? Well that’s newsworthy.
Last month, The Center for Public Integrity ran a piece from writer Carrie Levine. Bearing the headline question, Megadonors Stricken with Presidential Fatigue?, Levine offers:
“Donald Trump-fueled tumult in the Republican presidential race is prompting some major donors to abandon the field for now and instead funnel resources into downballot races.
Some key political groups dedicated to promoting Republican congressional candidates say they’re seeing interest from donors who would otherwise be focused on the presidential race.”
While there is something karmically delicious about the monied (Trump) running off the monied, it’s clear that current electoral malaise has become a pervasive sickness. Rich folks realizing they’re losing their stranglehold on the national process is gratifying for us 47 percenters. Sort of fun to watch the elite take their toys and go home. But like the aftermath of any tasty sugar rush, a sense of fatigued emptiness follows. Because we’re still left with the reality of Donald Trump or Ted Cruz as the chosen Republican candidate for President. And there’s nothing fulfilling about that.
It appears that the fractious factions of our political process – voter, media and big donors – are finally united by one wish. A merciful end to an extraordinarily bizarre and exhausting primary season. Yet there are still, relatively speaking, many miles to go before the July conventions. While embedded in that timeline is the promise of two long holiday weekends (Memorial and Independence Day), there are still many more primaries, press conferences and statements through which to knuckle. Charles Blow, Sheldon Adelson and I make strange bedfellows in our electoral exhaustion. But we’re also united in our inability to move time.