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10 Reasons to Love the 2016 Election

Jonathan Bernstein is a Bloomberg View columnist. He taught political science at the University of Texas at San Antonio and DePauw University and wrote A Plain Blog About Politics.
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As a political junkie, I am really looking forward to this election cycle.

I say this because George Packer at The New Yorker wrote a much-noticed essay this week about how bored he is with current politics. Several people have already responded with items about the high stakes in this election (with at least one dissent), summarized by economist Brad DeLong’s question: “Does George Packer really think the purpose of American politics is to thrill him?” I won’t add to that.

I could talk about boredom with politics as a sign of a more healthy and contented nation: I suspect we could find similar talk during the 1988 and 2000 cycles -- both contested under conditions of peace and prosperity, and with expectations that gridlock and divided government would continue (in this election, it’s more like semi-peace and iffy-prosperity). It’s no coincidence that 2008, when we were in the throes of a deep recession, and 1968, when Vietnam (and more) were at full throttle, were the two most exciting election years in living memory.

Instead, I’ll put on my political junkie hat (the one with the oversized “Traficant for President” pin) and suggest several reasons to be excited for 2016. Not counting Ed Kilgore’s favorite -- the return of Rick Perry and the Oops! Factor:

1. Bernie Sanders is (sort of) running for president! He can be a bit of a scold, but never boring.

2. Republicans have Ben Carson. Expect almost anything to come out of his mouth. 

3. And what about those Republican debate audiences, and their tendency to cheer/boo at hugely inappropriate stuff?

4. There will be nutty House candidates. Maybe none of them will be blue, but still.

5. We get another round of Republican Senate candidates trying not to make fools of themselves about rape and other seemingly easy subjects. Wiccan or not.

6. It will be safe again to watch the "Tonight Show" monologue (I have mixed feelings about Jimmy Fallon, but at least he’s not Jay Leno. We’ll miss Letterman, though).

7. Joe Biden will say or do something wildly inappropriate; the press will chuckle and talk about the Onion (which is also the press’s reaction when Biden does serious governing things).

8. Bill Clinton will say or do something wildly inappropriate; the press will chuckle, and wind up blaming Hillary.

9. We will have three Bateson Class candidates -- New York’s George Pataki, Virginia’s Jim Gilmore and Maryland’s Bob Ehrlich -- to entertain us.

10. And a fairly serious one: There’s nothing better than C-SPAN coverage of candidates wandering around trying to talk to voters. We’ll get plenty of that, and if you don’t enjoy at least a few minutes of it, you’ve got it all wrong.

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Jonathan Bernstein at

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