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Why are we forced to endure what has become a cycle that begins almost immediately after one election and continues until the next no matter the office, local, state or national.

Although the upcoming presidential election is still 16 months away, the candidates' desire to increase their name recognition and the media's need to have something on which to pontificate has led us to a much too long campaign season. Great Britain limits its campaigns to about six weeks, which sounds reasonable to me, but, in this country, we are forced to endure what has become a cycle that begins almost immediately after one election and continues until the next, no matter the office, local, state or national.

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Combine the unending campaigns with this year's exceptionally large group of announced presidential candidates, and there may be more by the time this appears, and you have the recipe for turning a great number of the electorate away from the political process. With, at this point, 16 or 17 announced candidates, from the rich and famous to the mostly unknown that most folks couldn't pick out of a lineup, the Republican Party seems hell bent on rendering itself completely irrelevant. The Democrats have a similar group, from the presumed heir apparent to several relative unknowns including our former governor.

In a difficult attempt to be fair, I would immediately eliminate the candidates who would follow in the family footsteps to the presidency. Mrs. Clinton has had some difficulty with her veracity on several matters since her time as First Lady and Mr. Bush, although possibly the most qualified Republican candidate, just looks to be following on the path of dear old dad and brother and he may not really want to be president. Each of the other announced candidates from either party has flaws or questions about their ability to lead the country through the trials and tribulations of foreign policy and our own internal affairs.

On the Republican side the leader in the polls at the moment is "The Donald" Trump whose public persona as a campaigner seems more self aggrandizing than an earnest attempt to get elected. The various governors, ex-governors and members of both houses of Congress and one skilled neuro-surgeon who have thrown their hats into the ring all have ideological flaws and qualification questions as I see them. The Democrats have their own problems since, after Mrs. Clinton, the most well-known and possibly best qualified would be Vice President Joe Biden or Secretary of State John Kerry. But they too has some questions about their ability to be leader of the free world. The other potential candidates are mostly unknown quantities when it comes to national politics.

What the country needs before next summer's party conventions is for some as yet unknown from either party to show the charisma, international understanding, and the desire and ability to get the two parties to work together for the betterment of the country as a whole not just the views of one party or the other. I have no idea who said "white knight" might be and I question if there really is someone out there with those qualifications. All I do know at this moment is that I have no confidence that any of those who have so far expressed the desire to be president have shown the necessities to hold the office. Perhaps one of those will prove to be the shining star acceptable to the majority of us voters or will we have to vote for the "lesser of two evils" in still another election? Only time will tell, but I'm not holding my breath on this one.

Bill Kennedy writes every other Monday from Taneytown. E-mail him at wlkennedyiii@verizon.net.

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