Report from the future - Hawaii, November, 2019
“Noah is a beautiful child, compassionate, persuasive, and patient,” said Mary Kepler, head of the Democratic National Committee. “I’m not surprised that he’s won the 2056 primary election.”
It was a confluence of events that led to this odd and unprecedented event – the election of 8 year-old Noah Rodriguez to represent the Democratic Party in the 2056 election, a general election still 37 year away at the time of Hawaii's primary election.
It began in 2005 – the year that Americans made presidential politics their one outlet for an interest in politics. That year, the contest to determine who would be sworn in as president in 2009 began shortly after George Bush's re-election. Oddly, the twists and turns of the campaign kept American’s attention right up to November of 2008.
Cable news networks learned an important lesson from this: presidential politics means ratings. There simply isn’t a national audience for local politics. Presidential politics proved the perfect match for cable news’ drive for share ratings. So, the stations that made news a 24-hour-a-day affair decided to transform an election that previously went on every four years into a contest that went on for an entire four years. Historians noted that Bush’s re-election had far less to do with the success of his policies than Karl Rove’s success at turning the presidency itself into a political campaign. Policy was overshadowed by politics and America began the age of perpetual political campaigns.
Meanwhile, states began to aggressively compete to matter in this process. Iowa and New Hampshire had for decades exercised influence over national politics that was disproportionate to traditional metrics like population or the GDP. Resenting this advantage, other states moved up the dates for their own primaries. First Florida and then Michigan moved up their dates in defiance of the political parties. Once started, there was no way to check this drive to “be number 1.” Nevada, in keeping with the spirit that made it the first state to legalize gambling, was the first state to truly cross the line: they scheduled their primary election to determine the candidates for 2012 in 2008 – one entire election cycle ahead of the national election. They were the first but not the last. States continued to compete to be first.
Finally, by 2019, Hawaii, resentful of the fact that it didn’t even merit a visit in a typical election year, became the first to proclaim that “Our Children Are the Future Leaders.” They held an election contest that included candidates still decades away from being qualified to hold national office. The youngest was a 7 year-old whose mother swore that he’d never once thrown a tantrum, and the oldest was a 19 year-old whose chin whiskers made voters nervous, evidence as they were of hormones and the complications brought on by a libido.
“We’re looking for someone innocent, without a past to explain,” said Alberta Misou, expressing a common voter sentiment when questioned about the surprising popularity of these “vote for the future” campaigns.
Innocence, though, does come with a price. One of the more embarrassing moments of Hawaii’s 2019 campaign came when 9 year-old Thomas Peterman actually peed himself in response to a particularly hostile audience question during one debate.
Yet for all its flaws, this election for the future remained popular. 14 year-old political analyst Chloe Bennington explained, “If you haven’t created a name for yourself on the national stage by the time you’re 13, you can pretty much forget about ever holding a national office.”
As it turns out, she is right. She already has her own show on CCN.com and contract through 2035.