Friday, November 23, 2007

Burnout and turnout

It doesn't take a genius to figure out that I enjoy politics. I've been involved in some fashion with things political since I was 16. Growing up, my parents would take me to the polling place with them on Primary Day and for General Elections. My Mama and Daddy would always take the time to show me who they voted for, though it was left to my maternal Grandfather to explain in that country wisdom that only he could articulate how to vote ("vote straight Republican or go straight to Hell"). I've worked on all kinds of campaigns-though I have come to enjoy local and State politics the most over the years. The only things I haven't done are to be paid for my efforts as some are, or to run for office myself. At least one of those things may change in the near future.

After an exhausting 2006 campaign where all but one of the candidates I was personally supporting actually won, I was really hoping for a breather. A few months away from the political hub-bub while I rested up for a long Presidential slog. It wasn't to happen, largely because the Primary season isn't just starting earlier than ever before, the major contests are so closely packed that there is to be little rest. The nominees of both political parties could be decided as early as February 5th, which essentially means that the General Election campaign could last from February to November.

In talking to a few political contacts, friends, and associates in recent days I'm hearing the same thing: All agree that they are sure that there will be plenty of moments in the coming year worth remembering in years to come. Certainly, we'll all have a quite a bit of fun during the process, as people who like politics tend to do during an election cycle. Nearly everyone I talked to also said they were already worn out. One close friend who is by now a political veteran told me the other night "I'm tired of it already."

With the Iowa Caucus set to take place on January 3rd, and the New Hampshire Primary set to occur at its earliest date in history on January 8th, the 2008 campaign is already well underway. If the General Election campaign really does begin on February 6th, it is very easy to see that burnout is going to be a major factor in all political camps.

If political hacks who enjoy this sort of thing are already tired and feeling strained, think of how Joe Sixpack-the average voter-is feeling. Think of how Joe and Jane will feel come November.

How could this impact voter turnout?



At Friday, November 23, 2007 2:28:00 PM, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

First, I don't think your average American realizes that we're going to know our nominees by Feb 5. They're not paying attention now, and they're going to wake up in 10 weeks and say, WTF? Both sides.

Second, we're burned out because we've had no break from the 06 Congressional races to the Presidential race.

We're burned out because it's not fun like it used to be. Everyone is a pundit, and most of them are idiots. It's non stop pontification without the facts to back it up...on both sides. In this new world and new media, who has time for facts? Someone throws it out there, and by the next day its made its way around the world and the facts be damned.

We've had private conservations. You know how burned out I am. I keep telling myself, just one more year. But goodness, that's one more year without a social life, since my social life usually revolves around politics outside of the Hasidic community I spend way too little time with.

I've mentioned this before, but politics used to be fun. It wasn't as mean spirited as it is now. Ann Coulter would have been booed off by both sides.

Look at the personal attacks?

On the other hand, people like you and me have always done what we can, how ever small our contributions, to make a positive difference. And when we are part of passing Jessica's Law and doing things like that, then we forget the other 99 things that suck about politics.

I don't know what to tell you. I want to see you run for office because I know you are sincere. On the other hand, I want to see you have a life with your wife, and hopefully have a kid or 5.
Are they mutually exclusive? These days, yes, I think they are.

I think you need to ask yourself one question, and answer it honestly.

Are you having fun?

At Friday, November 23, 2007 7:14:00 PM, Blogger Dave Oatney said...

I have long pondered the idea that I am not losing the zeal of my late teens and 20's, but I am losing the energy I had in those days, I could pontificate and vote-count as hard as I could drink during my college years.

At 31, I have arthritis and tendinitis in addition to the cerebral palsy that will naturally worsen as I age and to which many of my seemingly-minor ailments are, in reality, directly related. As you know (and contrary to popular belief) politics doesn't pay well, either-when you are doing it right. I have every incentive to limit my political involvement to voting alone.

When I think of what the cost could be to Tennessee and to the nation if everyone used those excuses to get out of "the business," the cost is far too high.

Regardless of the outcome of the Presidential race in 2008, our country is-and will likely remain-sorely divided. The state we are in is not unlike the divided America of the 1850's. Those people who tried to act with decency, purpose, and honor were so frustrated that many of them gave up on trying. It left the elements on both sides who could see nothing but continued animosity as the only option. In 1861, it finally came to shooting. It came to that largely because the best people got out of politics before they had a chance to stop the real fighting.

I can't allow for frustration and exhaustion to drive me away. I love my country, I love Tennessee, and I love Jefferson County and my community-and if they don't need me, I certainly need them. If I do nothing else in life, I want for people to say that while I was here I made a difference for my community for the better.

As to whether I am having fun-it depends on the day. I had fun on the radio with David Massengill today. I have fun at Lincoln Day or Reagan Day dinners meeting new people and catching up with friends I might not have seen in awhile. I love dealing with the public, so I enjoy it when one of the local press agents asks me for some input. There is a slight possibility that I will be attending the GOP Convention in Minneapolis next September, and if I do go I may have entirely too much fun. I enjoy feeling like what I did was a help to someone, somewhere to better understand the political process. I love blogging. I feel that through this new medium, what I say can have an impact and sometimes reach a much wider audience than I realize.

I do not like dealing with vitriol from people who often times have no clue what is actually going on. Politics is a real learning curve, and I will be the first to admit that I don't know it all, largely because this is not an exact science and I am learning from those with a lot more experience than me. Dealing with vitriol from the uninformed has always gone with the territory, however. It is just more pervasive today because of the blogosphere.

As for Nicole, I think Mike Faulk is right about her-I sincerely believe she is a saint. She's not a political person, but she has also been my closest advisor, biggest supporter, and right arm. She believes in me in a way that few others do, and she has said that I will have her support for as long as I feel the need to remain involved.

It isn't always fun, and it is often tiresome, but I still love it.

At Sunday, November 25, 2007 1:36:00 AM, Blogger Sharon Cobb said...

I think you're good to go for a while. Not because you still love it, though that is very important, but because you have the love and support of Nicole.
With that, you can do anything and be happy.


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