Column: I Need An Election Vacation

This story was written by Gary Graca, Michigan Daily

It's not even November yet, and I'm already tired of hearing about John McCain and Barack Obama.

Every little thing these guys and their friends, family or acquaintances do (or don't do, like wear American flag lapel pins) is headlined on every newspaper in the country, blown out of proportion on every cable news channel and analyzed by every "expert" who has slithered out of the woodwork and onto the Internet.

I now know more about these two idiots than I know about my own mother. Case in point, I don't even know what arugula is, but I know that Barry (a nickname Obama dropped after high school) likes to eat it. And he especially likes the kind sold at Whole Foods.

I need an election vacation.

But you can't even leave the country to avoid hearing about every McCain-Obama back-and-forth about who would rid the world of terrorists quicker, so that's probably not possible. It could happen if McCain and Obama both go on a vacation of their own - to Antarctica. (It's necessary to go there if you want to formulate good environmental policy.) I'm not hopeful that will happen, though.

So instead of whining (which McCain surrogate and former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm would definitely not appreciate), there is a simple solution - one that these candidates could actually accomplish, unlike all of their promises on gas prices, Iraq, health care and taxes. Both McCain and Obama could finally get their respective parties' national committees to reform the current nominating system that needlessly kicks off in January.

They could do it before they even get elected, too - at the conventions next month.

People have already proposed tons of different fixes for the primary system in the last few years. There's the rotating regional primary system, which breaks the country into regions that each vote on the same day and take turns going first. And there's the American Plan, which starts with small states and ends with big states in only 10 days of voting.

Basically, all you have to do is break up our 50 states in some logical way and then set a schedule for when each group gets to vote. Pretty simple. The common denominator is that the Democratic and Republican National Committees get to choose when this nonsense begins each year. Imagine what a perfect world we could live in if only the first primary started in April and the last one ended in June.

But since perfecting the world wouldn't be a strong enough argument to make either McCain or Obama take their parties to task on this issue, there are politically expedient reasons for them to jump on the reform-the-primary-system bandwagon before next month, too.

For McCain, shaving down the campaign season would limit campaign spending in a way that the McCain-Feingold Act could have only dreamed of doing. When presidential campaigns start after midterm elections two years before the general election ever comes around, it's no wonder that this year's presidential election will cost an estimated $1 billion. And it's no wonder that candidates do every shady thing possible to get that kind of money.

For Obama, this would be the perfect chance for him to actually reform something in American politics (because no one believes that ditching the public campaign finance system was anything more than smart strategic maneuvering). What better a way to shut up the naysayers.

The truth is I don't want an election that only lasts a few months - that wouldn't give people enough time to get to know the candidates or at least have candidates' messages drilled into their heads. But I don't want an election that goes on for years either. And I don't care if John McCain wears boxers or briefs.