Presidential campaigning started much earlier than usual – not just several months or even a year before the election but a full 15 months. To my growing surprise, the networks are still covering the candidates and their debates; even the purported nonprofit NPR and the self-consciously august New York Times apparently succumbed to the expanded calendar.
Nonetheless, does the mass public care? Are viewers rushing home to view the latest staged debates among the many candidates? Are they reading columns upon news- paper columns about Barak and Hillary, John Edwards and Sen. Whomever Aspires? If not, will the free market in which the media operate drive them to return to their regular fare of reality shows, sit-coms, sports, and local news, letting the hustling candidates languish in No-news Limbo?
One result of popular disinterest should be a reconsideration of the traditional myth about voting percentages. If nearly 1000/0 of the people voted in totalitarian countries whose governments were feared, shouldn’t a low turnout indicate disinterest permitted only by a lack of government intimidation? If that’s true, an indisputably successful country would be one where voluntarily no one votes at all.
If public disinterest in the 2008 campaigns persists past the primaries next year, will the media “forget to cover” the final run-up (or is it run-down?) to the presidential election next summer and fall? If Nov. 4, 2008 became nothing more than another shopping holiday would the U.S., confronted with the fact of no president at all, have gotten to the prerequisite for splitting ourselves apart?