Too soon for 2016: Let's suspend talk on the next crop of candidates

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Most Americans have no desire at this point to hear from political types about prospective candidates for the 2016 presidential election. That goes for all shades of Democrats, Republicans and any other groups.

Three months into 2013 there is already speculation about who should or who might make a run for the White House. There are considerable disadvantages, besides the obvious boredom, for Americans to spend time this early on such idle discussion.

First, the last presidential campaign -- long, expensive and tiresome -- just ended in November. Whether or not individual Americans liked the result, a president was elected by a clear margin and, failing some catastrophe, will remain in office until January 2017, 46 months away. Given the breadth and complexity of its problems, the United States cannot afford the luxury of beginning to focus on the next election, nearly four years off, when so many challenges must be addressed now.

Looking beyond President Barack Obama so early in his second term could reduce him to lower-power lame duck status in 2013 -- and that would not be useful to the country. There are plenty of limits already to his ability to act, given the divided and obstructionist Congress, poisonous lobbyists eager to make campaign contributions and other entrenched special interests, without hamstringing him further by pretending that the end of his service is around the corner. It isn't.

Another reason that speculation about 2016 is fruitless today, however profitable it may be for media and political consultants, is that a lot can happen to people and the country between now and the time it will be truly appropriate to consider the next round of presidential prospects. Who in 1964, for instance, would have anticipated the tumultuous events that became the backdrop to the 1968 election? Who in the two months after George W. Bush's 2001 inauguration could have foreseen Sept. 11 and the changes it would bring to the nation and the world?

Hard as it is to put off the early handicapping, and despite all the money in modern politics, Americans deserve to be spared a four-year presidential campaign that begins now. Voter turnout is low enough already.



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