When I opened a news website this morning I saw a story about Joe Biden making a campaign trip to Iowa. When I saw a picture of him flashing a Cheshire cat grin as he posed with a child for a picture and read about his “2016 themes,” I groaned and briefly contemplated hurling myself off the nearest overpass.
I’m not ready for 2016. I’m really not — and I don’t think the country is, either. But political reporters can’t resist this stuff. We’re still more than three years from the next election, and already you can find the campaign speculation stories out there, lurking out there like a blobfish, ready to surface at any time and cause us all to emit howls of rage and disgust. Don’t count out Rand Paul! Hillary Clinton’s got a big decision to make as she weighs whether to throw her hat in the ring! What’s Chris Christie going to do?
All of this inside-the-Beltway speculation may be loads of fun for the pundits and politicos, but it’s depressing for those of us out in the heartland. Why? There are several reasons. First, we know that, when elections are on the horizon and the political posturing begins in earnest, nothing gets done. And right now, we don’t need politicians who are focused on the next election, we need politicians who are focused on trying to figure out how to fix the economy so that people can get back to work. It’s astonishing that the grim economic record of the past few years don’t get more meaningful attention, but our political leaders are adept at manufacturing distractions from the difficult problems at hand — and ridiculously premature election speculation is just another distraction.
Second, we already have a President. When the next election becomes a focus, the existing President automatically becomes a lame duck. We don’t need a lame duck, we need a President. I’m no huge fan of President Obama, but I think three years of lame duck drift would be disastrous for our country.
Finally, the 2016 stories are disturbing because they expose the unfortunate lack of mature, capable leadership in our country. Are people seriously considering Joe Biden for President? Or Rand Paul? Or Ted Cruz? How many governors and senators command your confidence these days? Look out at the presumed fields in the Republican and Democratic primaries and see if you can avoid an involuntary shudder.
So please, do me a favor. Shut up about 2016 for a few years, will you?