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Sheryl Crow knew that the darkness of the 2016 presidential election had reached a new level when she started seeing what she thought were physical effects on her family members.
In an interview with Business Insider on Monday, the singer speculated that the “urgency and sense of vitriol” in the election may have taken a physical toll on her mother’s health.
“I was actually in the hospital with my mom, and they would come in every couple hours to take her vitals,” Crow said. “And she’s a true news junkie, very well informed. And her vitals were off the charts. She’s usually 90/60, and she was 169/60. I could see what this is doing to all of us.”
The election’s sense of “nastiness,” as Crow dubs it, is part of the reason the Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter launched a Change.org petition earlier this month to lobby the Democratic and Republican national committees to shorten the election cycle.
The petition, which on Tuesday had garnered over 33,000 signatures, says it has been over 600 days since Sen. Ted Cruz announced his presidential campaign in 2015 to kick off the presidential election, and urges the DNC and RNC to spare the country another “lengthy slugfest.”
“Countries across the globe have limited campaign seasons to as short as 6 weeks,” the petition reads. “The American people have been extremely disrespected in this campaign season with the ugliness that pits us against each other and with nonsense and fear-mongering. It is time this comes to an end and that we demand better for ourselves.”
In Monday’s interview, Crow lamented that she has gone from a “news junkie” to finding herself “hurtling furniture to get the remote” before her kids to keep them away from cable news.
“There was a time in my life and in my career where I was very outspoken. I was on the campaign trail for candidates. I was always blogging,” Crow said. “A few years back, I just felt like the noise was becoming deafening. People and opinions were becoming more vitriolic, and I wanted to sit back and be quiet, really on behalf of my kids, and not be drawn into arguing.”
Crow is somewhat light on specifics about how she would like to see the election shortened, though she said she is open to different ideas, and cited Canada’s 11-week parliamentary election cycle as a potential model.
The singer-songwriter said she’s talked to campaign experts about the best way to cut down the campaign cycle without limiting the information that voters need to head to the ballot box.
“We have to evaluate it,” Crow said. “We have to figure out a way to make the process better, whether it means setting up rules as to when money can be raised or setting up rules over when TV ads could run. Or maybe investigating the primaries.”
She added: “I think that asking for six or eight months isn’t out of the question.”
Still, she acknowledged that longer primaries allow grassroots campaigns like those of Sen. Bernie Sanders and then Sen. Barack Obama to gain steam. For Crow, Sanders’ candidacy demonstrated the importance of a longer primary campaign.
“I’m very optimistic when I saw someone like Bernie Sanders being able to galvanize a whole population of people and talk about some real issues that plague our nation no matter what side you’re on,” Crow said.
There may be a silver lining to the election cycle for Crow personally. The singer-songwriter hinted that the election played a supporting role in shaping the content of her next two records.
“I have two new records that I just completed, and the one that we just finished a month ago is largely about what’s happening in this country, as well as what’s happening in the world and what’s happening with humanity,” Crow said.
When asked if any songs were directly influenced by the election, she said: “There are definitely a couple of songs, one of which we are looking to release in the next couple of weeks that is collaborative, and I can’t really talk about who is on it yet. We are in the process of mixing it.”
And her reservations about the campaign won’t keep Crow from going to the ballot box.
Though she would not disclose which candidate she is supporting, the previously self-professed Democrat said she is “definitely voting.”