When it comes to recycling, pundits and journalists would be wise to stick to plastic and aluminum. Reusing story ideas each and every election cycle is rather tiring.
With the same level of consistency as Leap Year, we’re always told that this is the most important election…ever!
The most common reason used is that the Supreme Court is at stake. But hasn’t the Supreme Court always been at stake? Can someone point to any election in their lifetime where the court wasn’t 5-4 on many of the major decisions before it? We’re also told that one judge is nearing retirement or death and that the next president will have a chance to appoint multiple judges. That’s not entirely a lie. Every single president since the Civil War has appointed a Supreme Court justice. But since every single president has had the opportunity to appoint a judge, doesn’t that slightly diminish the significance of it?
For what it’s worth, the only exception to this has been Jimmy Carter. Andrew Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and even Gerald Ford had a chance to appoint Supreme Court justices but the peanut farmer missed out on that opportunity.
Every four years the media also tells us that there might be a brokered convention. What could be more exciting than a brokered convention? Who knows what dark horse candidate might swoop in and steal the nomination on the eighteenth ballot!
The problem is, brokered conventions just don’t happen anymore. Even without superdelegates and even with proportional allocations of delegates a brokered convention is still exceptionally unlikely. That’s because the losing candidates run out of money and drop out of the race. Then they throw their support — and delegates — towards a surviving candidate. And when there are only two candidates left competing for the nomination it’s obviously rather difficult to have a brokered convention.
The media also loves telling us about the late-arriving candidate who will shake things up and win the nomination. You know, like Wesley Clark, Fred Thompson, Rudy Guliani and Mike Bloomberg. Each of them arrived late in their respective campaigns and each of them ended up departing pretty darn early.
Every four years the media also tells us that young people are going to make a major impact on this race and turn out in “record numbers.” However, when young people do turn out in “record numbers” they still make up roughly the same percentage of the electorate. Young people turned out in “record numbers” for Barack Obama in ‘08. However, turnout was high overall that year, so they mattered roughly as much as they always do. As Bernie Sanders learned this week, young people remain the demographic least likely to vote. They shouldn’t be ignored but you sure can’t build a coalition around them.
In the interest of full disclosure, I actually ran for mayor of my town when I was 19. Young people turned out to vote in record numbers! However, residents turned out in even greater numbers to make sure a college kid didn’t take over their local government.
And sadly, if this column is recycled and reprinted four years from now I suspect it’ll be just as relevant.
Adam Guillette is the President of Accuracy in Media. www.aim.org