In time for a midterm defeat of the Democrats and Obama, The New York Times recently published an opinion piece called “Cancel the Midterms,” written by Duke professor David Schanzer and Duke junior Jay Sullivan.
In the article, they argue that “there was a time when midterms made sense”; but now “two-year House terms no longer make any sense,” and “we should get rid of midterm elections entirely.”
In one paragraph, they contend that “there are few offices, at any level of government, with two-year terms’ and that “Twitter, ubiquitous video cameras, 24-hour cable news and a host of other technologies provide a level of hyper-accountability the framers could not possibly have imagined.” They conclude: “In the modern age, we do not need an election every two years to communicate voters’ desires to their elected officials.”
They also write that midterm elections aren’t just unnecessary, but they are in fact “harmful to American politics.”
The main impact of the midterm election in the modern era has been to weaken the president, the only government official (other than the powerless vice president) elected by the entire nation. Since the end of World War II, the president’s party has on average lost 25 seats in the House and about 4 in the Senate as a result of the midterms. This is a bipartisan phenomenon — Democratic presidents have lost an average of 31 House seats and between 4 to 5 Senate seats in midterms; Republican presidents have lost 20 and 3 seats, respectively.
The realities of the modern election cycle are that we spend almost two years selecting a president with a well-developed agenda, but then, less than two years after the inauguration, the midterm election cripples that same president’s ability to advance that agenda.
An additional reason they don’t like midterms is because the midterms have an electorate that “has been whiter, wealthier, older and more educated than during presidential elections.”
What do you think? Should midterms be canceled because they “weaken the president” or should they continue as the Founders intended?
h/t: NY Times
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
BCN editor’s note: This article first appeared at Western Journalism.