Does Perpetual Election Season Destroy Meaningful Legislation?

Nevada’s GOP just set its caucus for the 2012 elections. News agencies, meanwhile, are announcing debate dates, and potential nominees are being analyzed, dissected and scrutinized to predict the political odds. But what happens to actual legislation? Has it become obsolete?

Does Perpetual Election Season Destroy Meaningful Legislation?
[Just some of the Republicans who may run for the White House in 2012.]

Even before the midterms were over — or, in some cases, even started — political junkies have been handicapping the 2012 race. Will Sarah Palin run? If she does, can she beat Mike Huckabee, or, more importantly, Barack Obama? And what about that health care law? Will that stand strong until 2012? Are today’s polls accurate indicators of future voting patterns?

These and other questions have been floating around for months as the race to 2012 continues to gain speed. This week Nevada’s Republican Party announced its caucus date–February 18th– nearly two weeks after Iowa and four days after New Hampshire, the two states who traditionally lead the nomination process.

“This is an important responsibility, because the failed economic policies of President Obama have made Nevada the nation’s leader in unemployment. Nevadans cannot afford four more years of his job-killing agenda in the White House,” said Mike Amodei, chairman of Nevada’s Republican Executive Committee.

The Nevada news comes after ABC announced it will host a Republican debate, despite the fact that, aside from Fred Karger, there are no known contenders. ABC hasn’t set a date, but Fox News and Iowa’s Republican party announced a joint August 11, 2011, face off. CNN, meanwhile, will cosponsor a deliberation on June 7, 2011.

The majority of midterm news reports referred to a Republican “wave” sweeping through Congress, as if our election were a simple weather system. A new high pressure system had come in, yes, but there’s another one on the way. The phrase “this too shall pass” becomes a dismissal, not a comfort, as civic energy finds itself channeled into the future, while the here and now gets forgotten.

But President Obama has at least two more years on the job, and should be given a chance to govern, rather than being counted out straight away.

And the Republicans themselves haven’t had a chance to flex their muscle in Congress. Maybe they’ll surprise us by abandoning the obstructionism they’ve promised and actually make political progress. That possibility, however, seems dim.

Perhaps the real problem isn’t necessarily the perpetual election season– something created more by the media than our democratic system– as much as the politicians who get calculate their votes for future gain.

That’s why we see people like Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell suddenly voting “nay” against a spending bill with earmarks he once championed. Tea Party voters wouldn’t approve, he thinks, and that could hurt his chances in 2014, his next reelection date.

All the 2012 election hoopla has already eclipsed the next months and years of legislation, assuming that our future political zeitgeist will resemble the one we see today. Chances are, it won’t, and the nay vote cast today will be explained away tomorrow, thus turning meaningful legislation into nothing more than a passing fad.