Finally, it’s over
Looking back on the 2008 general election — even before the polls closed and the ballots were counted — there is much that can and should be celebrated across America.
This year’s presidential contest energized the electorate. Across the country, record numbers of citizens registered to vote. Record numbers of voters cast advance ballots. And if the trend continued into Election Day, as expected, record numbers of voters participated in this year’s election.
For those of us who advocate for participatory democracy, the news is worth lauding.
The run up to the 2008 election, however, leaves much to be desired.
Consider, for example, the first candidate to officially announce his intention to run for the office was former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel. The Democrat declared his candidacy in a speech to the National Press Club on April 17, 2006 — 31 months ahead of the election.
The two major parties’ standard-bearers, Barack Obama and John McCain, didn’t exactly wait until the last minute. Obama declared his candidacy on Feb. 10, 2007; McCain followed suit 18 days later.
Will the norm for an American presidential campaign season now be upwards of 22 months?
Then there was the primary season. It seems so long ago, mostly because it was. The holiday trimmings weren’t even back in the box when Iowa residents attended GOP and Democratic caucuses on Jan. 3 — the earliest ever, and a full 16 days earlier than in 2004.
The first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primaries were Jan. 8. As recently as 1996, Granite Staters didn’t vote in their presidential primary until the third Tuesday in February.
In the interceding 10 months between those first contests and Tuesday’s general election, the parties delivered their nominees and the campaign was on. While neither McCain nor Obama visited Kansas after gaining the nomination, both made several visits to the Kansas City metro.
Now, with the ballots counted, voters can rest without the constant barrage of political ads over the airwaves, on the Internet, in e-mails and newspapers.
That is, until the first hopeful of 2012 steps forward and announces his or her run for the White House.