Election fatigue setting in now

With almost a year and a half before the next presidential election, I think I’m officially done caring about the whole affair.

It’s the same thing every election cycle. Like Christmas decorations in stores, the talk about who might be running for the nation’s highest seat flares up, and the hypothetical candidates are debated, contested, dragged through the mud and thrown into the spotlight.

Barely after John Kerry stepped aside and let the nation accept its fate as a country once again under the reign of George W. Bush, talk was already beginning about who the next candidate would be, if Kerry would run again, and if Al Gore would emerge from then-full beard and return as a presidential candidate (He didn’t).

With 17 months to go, the candidates are still plentiful in their parties, and though front-runner’s are constantly being monitored – is Barack Obama ahead this week, or is Hillary Clinton? – and their talking points exhaustively covered.

Debates have come and gone, both traditional, moderated by cable news anchors with intense, hypothetical questions; and “the next generation,” with debates moderated, again, by news anchors but with questions submitted by Americans animated to look like snowmen through YouTube.

As exciting as the debate was, the Democratic candidates all looked alike, sounded alike and continued to spout the same rhetoric we’ve all grown accustomed to now. One can only wait for the Republicans’ debate, which promises to be more of the same, but maybe with more snowmen asking questions about Social Security.

One of the bigger stories on the Google News front page last week, dwarfed only by coverage of President Bush’s latest wiretapping program (but above it on the page), was that Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani’s daughter, Caroline, had listed support for Obama’s presidential run on her Facebook account.

“Before the presidential campaign got under way, Caroline added herself to a list on Facebook as an expression of interest in certain principles,” said Joannie Danielides, spokeswoman for Caroline, in an article in The New York Times. “It was not intended as an indication of support in a presidential campaign, and she has removed it.”

Of course, it’s easy to understand why this made the news. How badly does a presidential campaign have to be going for your own daughter to consider voting for the other guy? Of course, it’s equally easy to understand how this isn’t news. Instead of asking for comments from Giuliani about his reaction to the news of his daughter’s defection, why not ask him about something important?

Keeping with the Obama camp, how important was it that we focused our attention on dining with this Illinois senator-turned-candidate? Was it worth the exhaustive, repetitive coverage we all had to endure? What, if anything, did we gain from it?

With the country looking for the next president of the country, aware of an unpopular war with growing troop casualties, of mounting fears of terrorism and of a weakening American dollar, an important emphasis should be placed on what, if anything, these candidates have to offer.

Instead of parading them on the news channels, asking vague questions that are set up for buzz words, campaign slogans and, most importantly to the networks, sound bites, we should try to dig deeper into the reasons for their running for office.

If nothing new can possibly be squeezed from these candidates – both Democratic and Republican – that truly shows a vision of leadership, a plan for the future and a strong, sound message for the next four years, then perhaps it’s time we pulled the plug on the election until the final months.

Perhaps then, in the final, last-minute dashes for coverage, they might say something truly interesting, and we, in turn, will begin to care anew.