Election in Reruns

By Kate Brightwell

In this environmentally conscious day and age, we are always told to recycle and reuse to help the planet. However, should this translate to our presidential candidates?

If you look at the 2016 line-up, it certainly does. Our current prospects for the 2016 election include the “son of a governor and presidential candidate, the son of a congressman and presidential candidate, the wife of a president and the brother of a president, son of a president and grandson of a senator.” (Milbank) For a country that prides itself on it’s democratic process, we are looking an awfully lot like a dynasty.

It is also strange to think that if a Clinton or a Bush win in 2016, we will have had a president from one of those two families for 24 out of the 32 years since 1988. The presidency has seemingly turned into a family business.

Why is this?

One answer is simply name recognition. The narratives of these candidates are already out there and thus they are already ahead on the media side when getting their name into the heads of the public. Additionally, with this

Ready for Hillary political sign. Courtesy of Ready for Hillary organization.

Ready for Hillary political sign. Courtesy of Ready for Hillary organization.

name recognition, come donors and connections. The candidates in this race already have donors ready to back them and a strong following. The Ready for Hillary campaign has been hard at work since 2013, trying to keep Hillary’s name in the public.

With this vast name recognition, however, also comes name fatigue. Many of the potential-potential candidates have been in the public’s sight for a very long time. And while this might bring fund-raising connections and brand recognition, it also brings unwanted associations. For example, the public might associate have certain associates with the Bush name *cough, cough-Iraq. Similarly, Monica Lewinsky will inevitably become a household name again.

The predictability of this race might lend some to wishing for a fresh face, as we saw in 2008 with the election of

Chart of Voter Turnout since 1789. Courtesy of the Elect Project.

Chart of Voter Turnout since 1789. Courtesy of the Elect Project.

Barack Obama. America does love an underdog and voter turnout reached a high of 61% since 1968 in that race.

Although, others may opt for the comfort of the recognizable candidate in a time where our belief in government’s approval rating is so low. According to Julian Zelizer, a Princeton historian, “Washington’s broken, and voters and campaign donors are looking for people who seem to know what they’re doing.” While some may argue about if they truly know what they are doing, the current list of potential candidates does boast of some impressive credentials.

Our name brand potential candidates are going to have to walk a fine line between name comfort and fatigue. It is going to be an interesting race for sure, but if you miss any of the coverage, you can just watch the reruns from the last several elections.

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