If there's one thing we're good at in this country it is expanding things. From our waistlines and hamburgers to the NBA season, we know how to make things bigger and longer. Please note I do not imply necessarily better.
The Baseball Hall of Fame serves up a good example. In 1980 I went to its big induction ceremony in Cooperstown when they welcomed the Detroit Tiger star Al Kaline into the Hall. They held the ceremony on a side lawn of the Hall. There were maybe 300 of us. You could shake hands with Al, or the Duke or Yaz or any other star you wanted to. There was one star for every 10 fans.
This year, over 50,000 fans came to town for the induction.
Another example of American inflation is our presidential campaigns. Why, one of this year's Democrat candidates opened his campaign three years and three months before the election! I expect that before long some idiot will take aim at that record.
Now why is it the Japanese can do the job in 12 days? True. Their presidential campaign runs 12 days. In France they take two days longer. Actually, the French campaign for only 10 days. They allow two days for a labor strike. And two more for sick days.
Imagine! A 12-day campaign for the White House. That is hardly enough time to flip-flop on any issues.
We used to say the candidates were in a horse race for the White House. Gee, horses can't race that long. They can't walk that long. How about tortoise race? That is more accurate.
If you want to blame somebody for all this, zero in on Jimmy Carter. He can handle it - he is used to being blamed for things. He was the first candidate who turned campaigning into an occupation.
Carter announced he was running nearly two-years before the election. What with his accent, some folks figured their cable provider screwed up. Must have hooked them up to a channel from another country where they were having an election.
He announced, and then virtually moved to Iowa to sign up for its early, early primary caucus. Iowa Democrats were still sweepin' up from the last election. He arrived before they even knew they were going to have a caucus. Carter set up his campaign so early, why by the time the caucus came a lot of Iowans figured he was a favorite son.
Poor Jimmy. Even with a head start on the head starters he came in second to "uncommitted". I bet some future candidate is out there now trying to change his name to James Uncommitted. Or to Sally None-of-the-above. That sounds almost Native American. It's too late, Elizabeth Warren.
Years ago we suffered through an endless concert that had Faust in its name. (It should have had Dreadful in there as well.) Next day we arrived at a party. The host wore a huge button: I SURVIVED FAUST. You might have a big seller if you came out with a tee-shirt that said something similar about this campaign.
Here is something to consider. Imagine telling your boss you are taking up a hobby. You want to keep your job and all its perks. While you spend a bit of time on your hobby. Which is running for the presidency. "I'll only be tied up three years," you assure her.
She wonders if you will be fully committed to your work during the campaign. "No problem," you tell her.
This is what most of these candidates tell us. They are governors, congresspeople and mayors. They tell us these jobs are absolutely and utterly essential. And nobody can handle them as well as they do. Which is why we are supposed to be grateful we elected them.
Then they take up this hobby of running for the White House two or three years out. They spend 90 hours a week running for the presidency. Begging for bucks. Speechifying across the fruited plain. Prepping for debates. Traveling, traveling, traveling.
And you are supposed to believe they are also working full time at their elected offices. Is it any wonder we don't trust or believe politicians?
Try shenanigans like that with your boss. Let me know how you get on.
I suspect the real reason our campaigns are so long is that so many people make so much money from them. Gravy trains grow longer because people like gravy. Media get to sell political ads for years. Thousands of people do nothing more in their lives than run campaigns. There is probably a degree program somewhere. What do you figure - A BS in BS?
Tom Morgan wrote this for the Observer-Dispatch.