There is something very strange happening in the run-up to the 2016 election.
I’m not talking about the candidate whose name rhymes with rump. There has been more than enough talk about him and his behaviour.
Think: crazy drunk uncle who lives for the holidays so that he can make sure someone runs away from the dining room table crying. He just comes off as that guy.
There are some who would respond that he is leading in the polls.
He is, but the election is 16 months away. Americans are not paying attention yet. They know his name because he had a long running reality show and he has spent decades in the tabloids for his divorces.
This is a celebrity society, but it tends to get serious when it comes time to actually vote.
The American media is focused on the next election, the American people are not. It is simply way too early to poll or talk to pundits.
The strange thing this time around is not about the grump who will flump (and yes I had to look that up).
What’s really different is how many candidates are running for president.
This is especially true of the Republican Party.
Recently there has been a kind of pattern in picking their nominee. The guy who came in second the last time around, gets the nomination the next time.
Right now there are 16 people running for the Republican nomination. That is kind of insane.
There is a very clear reason for this huge number: The US Supreme Court. They decided that the very rich can spend pretty much whatever they want on elections.
That has dramatically limited the power of the political parties. It used to be that the Democratic National Committee or the Republican one could say to politicians, “you can run but you won’t get any money from us.”
They can say that now, but it doesn’t matter.
If anyone of these candidates wins the “billionaire primary” they are set. There are a few of those that will likely determine who gets the nomination.
By some estimates, $5bn will be spent on the next presidential election. That is more than the gross domestic product (GDP) of some small countries. And that is a big concern for Americans.
This is what NBC found when it polled potential voters on their top concerns:
“Thirty-three percent of voters say the influence of wealthy individuals and corporations is their top concern, while 25 percent say they’re more worried about negative attacks. Another 16 percent are more concerned that nothing will change no matter who wins, and 12 percent believe that too many wealthy candidates don’t understand the economic problems of average Americans.”
Americans are concerned about how campaigns are being financed in this country. The question is will they do anything about it?
It would take a constitutional amendment to change campaign finance laws. That would be exceptionally expensive and difficult.
More than any time in recent history, I think it is possible that people will demand change after this election.
If that happens, we will be able to thank the candidate who personifies the issue, the rich guy whose name rhymes with lump.