For Lent this year, I've given up paying attention to election coverage. Just kidding! Instead of staying engaged, I'm hate-watching "Decision 2016" like it's the last season of How I Met Your Mother. Hopefully I won't hate the ending as much.
The story lines haven't changed much since last summer. Ted Cruz is still the poster child for backpfeifengesicht. Seriously. Google "punchable face." There is actual science behind this. Donald Trump hasn't run out offensive things to say, nor has he suffered any consequences for saying them. Hillary Clinton hasn't worn the same pantsuit twice. Jeb Bush? Pretty sure he's the inspiration for Arrested Development's Buster Bluth. I'm still waiting for Marco Rubio's alleged charisma to make its debut. Oh, and Ben Carson's still out there giving hope to aspiring brain surgeons who are, um, not smart.
Somebody call me when someone manages to hold Bernie Sanders down long enough to get a comb through his hair. Or when the primaries are over. Whichever comes first.
Election Day is more than eight months away, and I am already over it. It's going to be a long year, and not because there is an extra day in February.
I'm over the constant emails with the ambiguous subject lines, always asking me for a dollar, or $27, like the world's most persistent panhandlers. I have opened exactly one of these messages, from James Carville, titled "whackadoodles." Spoiler alert, it wasn't actually from the Ragin' Cajun. I only opened it because I wanted to reward the copywriter for capturing my attention. Game recognize game, or something.
Then there are the debates. Surely after nine episodes of the GOP Clown Car Hour, the candidates must be weary of trying to think of new and innovative ways to express how much they hate Obama, Muslims, women, minorities, immigrants, taxes, and poor people, and love guns, Jesus, corporations, and Reagan. We get it. Yet there are three more scheduled. Might I suggest a Thunderdome format? Or the Eliminator from American Gladiators? Let's just get this thing over with already.
Of course the Democratic debates are more substantial in terms of policy discussion — there are only two candidates. They still have to talk it out a dozen times, though, so every network gets a piece. And the debates are no more illuminating or informative unless you consider the number of millennials who probably had to Google "Henry Kissinger" during the last one. Because he's relevant in 2016. Thanks for reminding us how old you are, Bern and Hillz! Your Snapchats and emoji tweets are bae and so on fleek, it's easy to mistake you for fellow youths.
Thanks to the internet, social media, and TV news, we have rapid access to just about everything there is to know about every candidate. Why is it that, when technological advancements have streamlined and simplified every other facet of life, national elections take longer and longer? That's a rhetorical question, of course. It's money. It's always money. Ted Cruz was the first to declare his candidacy last March, and it wasn't to give us extra time to learn to like him. No, he needed to start raising money. Because running for president is really, really expensive. Which contradicts the whole idea of government being "by the people" and "for the people." Good thing that line is from the Gettysburg Address, not the Constitution, or we'd be in big trouble.
Candidates spent more than $70 million on advertisements in Iowa, a state that is 90 percent white and one that has little impact on the outcome of the general election. It derives its "importance" from the fact that its caucus system is so complex and convoluted it has to go first. Local businesses — restaurants, hotels, coffee shops and the like — reap economic benefits.
All together, the candidates spent $27,000 on pizza. That's a lot of pepperonis.
Jeb Bush spent $15 million in Iowa and placed sixth. If I were him, I would have bought fewer ads and more pizza. Instead he went and spent more than $30 million in New Hampshire. He placed fourth! These are supposed to be the "fiscal responsibility" guys! Think of all the problems $30 million would solve. The amount losing candidates spent in that tiny state could have bought new pipes for the entire city of Flint, Michigan.
The longer the election takes, the more it costs. That's why everyone who runs for president is either a millionaire or a corporate puppet, or is constantly in your email begging for money. Or all of the above. It's the American way, until it's no longer profitable.
Jen Clarke is an unapologetic Memphian and digital marketing strategist.