By Kristi Paxton
I have an idea, well, actually two of them. This would be the spot where my family would collectively groan and roll their eyes. You may join them if you like.
At age 58, I’m past the stage where I believe any president—Democratic, Republican, or Martian—can meaningfully change the way our political system works or fails. No election winner has profoundly changed the way I’ve lived my American life. What’s the popular quote: “If you keep doing the same things the same way you will keep getting the same results”?
We’ve all watched the ads. (Read “witnessed the wasting of millions of media dollars.”) We’ve all answered our phones. (Read “wasted countless hours on phone polls.”) We’ve all endured the debates. (Read “listened to hundreds of empty promises, both sides.”) Rah, rah, rah.
Once again we will elect a figurehead, and it doesn’t really matter which figurehead. Both candidates promise to fix the past, pave the way for a bright future. Blah, blah, blah. One man has the benefit of hindsight: he’s tried it, and knows it’s not that easy. The other man has the benefit of ignorant bliss: pure optimism where all dreams can be accomplished with a fresh start. Both men love their country and plan to make it better. They want the same results: more jobs, less national debt, improved education. They’ve said it themselves.
And now for my ideas for an improved election process. (I love creative license) My outline follows. A bunch of non-partisan smart people can work out the details.
Feel free to groan now, or choose the process you like best:
Process Number 1: The candidate who gets the most votes wins. The runner-up becomes vice-president. Force the two parties who claim to love their country to work together to improve it. You might say, "You stupid person. Dumb idea. Nothing would ever get done.” I may answer, “Soooooo. How is that different from any of the last ten administrations I’ve witnessed?”
Process Number 2: Forget the cut-throat, empty-promise, money-wasting TV ads. End the jangling phone polls. Instead, about six months before Election Day, broadcast black and white identically formatted television/newspaper/internet lists of 3-5 changes each candidate would make. Include concrete ways each would accomplish proposed changes.
Don’t picture candidate names, faces or political parties on the ads. Simply label them Candidate #1 and Candidate #2. Let people vote for the candidate they prefer based only upon his/her plan. Reveal the name of the winner after votes are tabulated.
And if the two candidate parties above really want to help their country, let them donate their campaign millions—saved by using the new low-cost processes—to the cause of reducing national deficit. (Or job production research or teacher salary increases)
Or maybe we should just elect the Martian.