He isn't in on the joke.

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Love Politics? 10 Things to Be Grateful For

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.
Read More.
a | A

Politics can mean life or death. Political decisions affect how economies operate, whether businesses will thrive or fail, what our neighborhoods look like.

On the other hand …

Politics can also be entertaining. So for those of us who take public affairs and governing seriously but also appreciate the lighter side of politics, I've included some examples in this list of 10 things to be thankful for.

10. Debates. Nothing matches the debates among candidates for a party's presidential nomination. My favorite for entertainment value alone: CNN-style, with the national anthem and candidate introductions suggestive of professional wrestling.

9. The ability of politicians to find infinite ways to embarrass themselves. This year’s winner: That Michigan Legislature sex scandal.

8. Congressional landslides -- but only because they inevitably elect flukish winners utterly unsuited for the job, many of whom crash and burn rapidly. Call it the Stockman Effect, for two-time single-term Texas Republican Steve Stockman, elected in 1994 (and then again in 2012 without the benefit of a landslide). Look forward to Stockman’s third term sometime in the 2030s.

7. Joe Biden at his best: The ceremonial swearing-in of senators. Unless the presidential candidates take my advice and keep him in office for another term, we have only one more chance to enjoy it.

6. The polling aggregation sites HuffPollster and RCP. So much information to play with.

5. Just as good: The growing uncertainty about polling results leads to more excitement in the old-fashioned vote counting on election nights.

4. Intrigue over House and Senate rules. Sure, filibuster reform or changes to the way House committee chairmen are selected are important. To some of us, they are also absolutely fascinating. 

3. Election-night Twitter: The best way ever to get results on obscure races (and to learn about great reporters from every state who know their local landscape). Also, debate-night Twitter: While we love debates (and care that the moderators get it right), we don't take them too seriously. 

2 C-SPAN. My favorite thing now is election-night coverage in other countries, but that only slightly edges out watching politicians work a room, or a county fair -- long, unedited pieces of Americana and retail politics. Brian Lamb is a Hero of the Republic.

1. Top spot: The 2016 elections will be the best-covered ever. Think of all the excellent outlets that didn’t exist eight years ago during the battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and a vigorous Republican contest won by John McCain. No Bloomberg View or Bloomberg Politics, to begin with. No Vox. No Upshot. No Mischiefs of Faction. Go back an additional four years, and no Monkey Cage or FrontloadingHQ -- or FiveThirtyEight or Politico.

And that's not even to mention the fine political reporting and analysis from national newspapers that have been around a long time but are better now, or outlets from Buzzfeed to the Washington Examiner and HuffPost. Alas, the overall condition of state and local reporting is dismal and getting worse (with the exceptions noted above). And, of course, there will always be plenty of hackneyed punditry.

But for national politics coverage overall, it’s night and day compared with 20 years ago: Better (and more) reporting, better analysis, better data, better just about everything.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

To contact the author of this story:
Jonathan Bernstein at jbernstein62@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story:
Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net