Blog: The Eight-Year Itch

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Burt Ross

It’s been a few weeks since our presidential election, and based on my conversations with several real estate brokers, it doesn’t look like everybody is selling their homes in Malibu and moving to Canada any time soon. Apparently, it takes more than a change in leadership to force us out of paradise.

Now that the dust has settled a bit, perhaps it is easier to reflect on what just happened.  We have a tendency in this country to write history as it happens without the benefit of hindsight, so maybe we can see things clearer today than when the election took place.

Obviously, when an election is as close as this one was, any number of factors might have determined the election’s outcome — temperament, ethics or lack thereof, fundraising, FBI involvement, ground game, and even possibly issues (perish the thought), but in my  opinion, one factor is more controlling than any other — of course, I am referring to the eight year itch. Please let me explain.

Since I started following politics in 1952 when I was a mere lad of NINE, I have noticed that the American people do not like to stick with either major political  party for more than eight years. In only one case in over 65 years has a party stayed in power for more than eight consecutive years. The one exception is when George Herbert Walker Bush followed Ronald Reagan’s two terms in office.

We tend to be less ideological and more impatient as an electorate, and that impatience is reflected in our daily lives. We hunger for change. Forty percent of all marriages end in divorce, and those marriages endure an average of — you guessed it —  eight years. The average American moves from one residence to another abode again in a little over eight years. The average American worker doesn’t even make it to eight years, but lasts only 4.4 years at the same job.

In other words, eight years seem to be our tolerance for mates, homes, and certainly for political parties. We get that itching feeling and it grows over eight years, and then we start to scratch.

I am not a betting man, but if I were, I would probably put some money down that the longer the newcomers stay in power, the more the American people will start to itch, and in eight years or less, we will scratch once again.