As a D.C. resident, I do a happy dance when the political players leave town — at least for the moment — for their respective conventions. We can park on the street. The roads have little traffic. Grocery stores do not have long lines at the cashier. Reservations at restaurants are much more available. So you would think I would be encouraging each party to expand their conventions to two weeks each so I could have a month of peace. But while there’s peace in the city, the airwaves are still clogged with politics.
Political commentary during the conventions takes up 95% of the news on every network and cable news channel, not to mention every newspaper. Every talking head has an opinion — some so loud and rude that I have to hit the mute button until they leave the set. It doesn’t matter what side is taken, both sides have their loudmouths and self-righteous blowhards. I don’t want a month of that.
My morning show of choice is often Morning Joe on MSNBC. This week two people discussed the idea of a one-day convention for each side. Republican Political Consultant Mike Murphy even suggested a full-on production with a reality edge of choosing the VP on air. Tom Brokaw, who wrote an article about a one-day convention in the New York Times, sold the idea very effectively. I would like to second that motion. A one day and one night show from each side would solve all sorts of problems. First, it would save taxpayers money. Second, it would cut the time that the talking heads can blabber. Third, it would force the parties to be more succinct in promoting their ideas and plans — if they have any — for the future. Just imagine, a production that would take up about as much time as the Oscars on one night. It would be more interesting to all of us who are making a candidate-based decision. And the party die-hards would have a show that the world watches instead of everyone trying to find anything watch but news.
Perhaps we could carry this one step further and limit the time that the campaigns could run. Instead of spending over a year hearing negative ads, and people spewing various theories over and over again, we could have some interesting conversations about the future and what needs to be done. Or, at the very least, a limited campaign season would help keep the airwaves from contamination for more than a year.
I know it is highly unlikely that either of these ideas will happen quickly, but I do think there is a chance that the conventions will at least have fewer than the old four to five days. When you hear the talking heads thinking it is a good idea, there is hope that the idea will grow and get majority support. I know that when I watch the coverage of the convention this week, the total of interesting speeches amounted to about four hours. And the networks blissfully cut off the commentators right at the end of their coverage so I wasn’t even tempted to stay up late and listen to people who statistically tell us nothing.
I am looking forward to the end of next week when the two conventions are over and we are in the final stretch of the campaign. If the discussion can be civil, informative and forward-looking and tell me what each side sees for our future AND how we can get there, it will be a welcome change and relief. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.