Donald Trump is bringing his chaotic presidential campaign to Michigan today, for the second time in two weeks. He is going to speak to a rally at a sports arena in Dimondale, a little outside Lansing, about five this afternoon.
And this morning, I realized something, which was that I don’t much care.
I have had more than enough of this endless campaign.
No other nation runs elections anything like the way we do. In one sense, ours are very orderly. We always vote on the same day. If this nation is still on the planet in a century, we will elect a president on Tuesday, November 3, 2116.
Unfortunately, the way things have been going, politicians will start campaigning for that election soon.
Take the current presidential campaign. The first time we saw a national televised debate was more than a year ago, in Cleveland. Now, we still have more than 80 days left.
Last year, Canada had the longest national election campaign in that nation’s history. The whole thing lasted – are you ready for this – 78 days! The ruling Conservative Party was strongly criticized for dragging it out, and that may have been a minor factor in their defeat.
Now, I realize that not everybody is paying attention to our campaign yet, other than politicians, political junkies, and the people who have to fill up the programming for our seemingly endless number of 24-hour news cable channels.
Years ago, the axiom was that ordinary people didn’t really start paying attention to the presidential election until after the last out of that year’s World Series.
That was, however, in an era when the World Series usually ended in the first week of October. These days, it sometimes goes into November. My personal view is that while most voters are somewhat aware of the campaigns early on, they really don’t fully engage until the first televised debate between the two major party candidates.
This year, that’s supposed to be September 26, at Hofstra University in New York, and chances are that will be the key moment of this campaign. Richard Nixon in 1960 and Al Gore 40 years later probably would have been elected, had it not been for bad first debates.
Presidents Obama and Reagan managed to recover from poor first debates when they ran for reelection, but they both had a lot going for them. Professional politicians, by the way, think it sort of crazy that Donald Trump is in Eaton County today. It is a county that used to be Republican but has been trending Democratic. But barely a hundred thousand people live there.
Trump’s chances of winning Michigan are also no more than about 10%. A conventional candidate would be spending this week solidifying support in traditionally Republican states like Arizona and Georgia, which seem to be slipping away.
But the author of The Art of the Deal is anything but conventional.
He acts on whim and impulse, and could correctly say that if he played by the established rules, he would never have gotten the nomination. One never knows quite what he’ll do or say, which is why they are bound to pack them into that arena tonight. And just think: We have almost three excruciating months left to go.
Jack Lessenberry is Michigan Radio's political analyst. Views expressed in his essays are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Michigan Radio, its management or the station licensee, The University of Michigan.