Don’t let the media disenfranchise you

In one year, Americans will have voted for president and, barring complications, will know the identity of their next commander-in-chief.

No one will remember how much John Edwards’ haircuts cost, if Rudy Giuliani’s second wife hated him or if Barack Obama wore a lapel pin. Everyone will have forgotten which Hollywood elites gave money to whom and if Dennis Kucinich saw a UFO.

No one will care. And neither should we.

The upcoming presidential election will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable contests our generation will see. For many of us, President George W. Bush’s elections in 2000 and 2004 were the first we paid attention to, and so electing his successor will be something we will never forget. Also, the nature of some of the candidates’ backgrounds makes the election historic.

In this sense, it’s understandable that we wanted to jumpstart this election as soon as we had the chance. We are an impatient society that is always focusing on the future. Often, this works to our benefit as we strive for new science, technology and ideas, but sometimes we do ourselves a disservice by looking so far forward.

We’re a year out from the election, and already tired of it.

The news media aren’t helping – at times it seems they’ve run out of anything substantial to say about the election and have resorted to nitpicking and focusing on whatever trivial, unimportant items come to their attention.

There’s a reason we never started an election this early before. A year out, the contest should still be open because no state has had a primary yet. Instead, we’ve already been discussing candidates for a year and the media, through their oh-so-accurate Web polls and online comment features, have determined which candidates are the most exciting and therefore who to pay the most attention to.

What happened to judging candidates by their qualities, voting records, platforms and ideas?

At this point in their campaigns, candidates should be focusing on proving they are worthy of their parties’ nomination. They should be asserting their beliefs and reinforcing their platforms. Instead, they are fielding questions about the general election and candidates from the opposing party.

Candidates should have to work for your vote and should not be allowed to ride early support all the way through to the general election. Those who get the most attention may not be the best for the job, just the most glamorous. The ability to generate buzz is not a qualification for president.

We’re not trying to promote certain candidates, issues or news outlets. All we’re suggesting is that you keep an open mind. We are part of a strongly desired demographic that has traditionally low voter-turnout. This means candidates really want your vote, but have to fight for it.

Take advantage of that. Make them fight for your vote. Ask important questions and demand answers. Don’t throw your support behind candidates until they have proven they are worthy of leading this nation.

And most of all, don’t let the media take away one of your most important rights: the right to choose your next leader.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.