Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Let's Pick a President

     A student I'm tutoring at the community college had to write a paper on a historical figure who had great power and influence. Most people would pick Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln or John Kennedy. He picked Adolf Hitler.

     The student isn't a racist or a skinhead. He is actually Hispanic, and he's just trying to do something different. And whatever else you can say about Adolf Hitler, he did have a lot of influence, and does to this day. There are still Nazis prowling around Europe and the U. S. And about the worst you can say about someone is that they are like Hitler.

     Which brings me to Donald Trump. No, I do not think he's like Hitler. But he is having a lot of influence on American presidential politics. He has crystallized the changes in the way we elect a president in this country -- and turned it into a reality show.

     And maybe that's not a bad thing. Donald Trump is ushering in a new age of electioneering. In place of cumbersome and sometimes too-close-to-call primaries and general elections that suffer from negative ads, overexposure of the candidates and low voter turnout, we are creating a reality TV show to decide who will be our next leader.

     The format will follow in the footsteps of "Survivor," "Dancing with the Stars" or Trump's own "The Apprentice." Candidates for president -- or any other major office, for that matter -- will take part in a series of contests. Each performance will be critiqued by three judges --perhaps former presidents, or else celebrity chefs -- who would offer their opinions along with some entertaining banter. Then the audience will text in their votes. And to those who wonder if the result will be fair, I say this: Verizon or AT&T never had a problem with a hanging chad.

     The electoral process will take place over one television season of eight to ten weeks. And because there's no doubt that a political campaign is at least in part a beauty contest, the first episode would focus on the candidates' physical attributes, as well as their poise, self-confidence and ability to connect non-verbally with the audience -- I was going to say "electorate" but surely we are more of an "audience" than an "electorate." And In this category, I'd say advantage Trump.

     The runway competition would be followed by a fast-paced makeup challenge -- elected officials do have to look good when they appear on TV -- which in turn would lead to a dance contest. What better way to demonstrate grace under pressure? Again, advantage Trump.

     Here are other events (perhaps you might suggest a few other relevant episodes?)

     A joke-telling contest. Can the candidate offer a joke suggestive enough to be funny, but without the racial, gender or cultural slurs that so often land candidates in hot water? Advantage Sanders ... hey, he's still in the race!

     A finger-pointing event. This is a useful skill when confronted by hostile reporters. The candidate must point a finger with authority, but not come on so strong that he or she elicits sympathy for the person at the other end of the finger. Advantage Clinton.

     A trivia game. To test candidates on their knowledge of current events. Where is Darfur? How do you pronounce Ranil Wickremesinghe (Prime Minister of Sri Lanka) or Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedodw (President of Turkmenistan). Advantage Clinton.

     Deal or No Deal. How else to choose a running mate? Jury's still out.

     This new method of choosing our leaders will offer huge benefits. So huge you will be amazed. It will shorten the political season from the current marathon to one crisp, well-crafted  season. Instead of deadening the public interest with an endless series of boring reports and debates, it would focus America's attention on the contest and heighten our interest in the outcome. Voter turnout will increase.

     Instead of draining the public purse on expensive campaigns -- with all the attendant corruption and conflicts of interest -- the new format would instantly solve the campaign finance issue. The cost to the candidates will be minimal, yet profits will skyrocket at the beleaguered old-media outlets as they reap in reality TV ad dollars.

     The new format will also elevate the level of public discourse. No more negative campaign ads. No more bickering over irrelevant issues, unbelievable denials and insincere apologies. The indecipherable electoral college scheme? Gone the way of all other anachronisms.

     I really can't think of a serious objection to this idea. Hold televised debates instead? Hah! We've tried this, and the news anchors get more attention than the candidates. Ask news commentators to actually discuss the issues rather than the latest scandal or the newest poll? Please, get serious. And forget trying to raise the level of discourse by educating the American public -- you might as well ask people to drive compact cars at 55 m.p.h. in order to save the environment.

     Finally, may I just note that I have nothing to gain by offering this plan. I have no connection to any political party, other than being a typically long-ignored registered voter. I have no interest in any TV network or current reality show. In fact, last year, when our last kid left the house, we unplugged our big-screen TV and brought it down to the basement where it now serves the more useful purpose of hiding the entrance to our newly constructed bomb shelter.
    

24 comments:

schmidleysscribblins.com said...

What can I say? Selecting a president is a serious business. We don't need coco the clown or bob the buffoon. I agree with president Obama. Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person to run for the office maybe ever.

I can recommend a list of books you might read if you want the real lowdown on the candidates. Begin with Paul Krugman's 'Conscience of a Liberal.'


The best joke ever? As Hillary said, "Trump has written many books on business and they all end in chapter 11."

Kevin said...

Tom, you're a funny man. Wish the stakes were not so high in this game show...

DJan said...

Humor may be the only thing that gets me through this election.

gigihawaii said...

I am with you on this.

Kathy @ SMART Living 365.com said...

Hi Tom! Whoo...aren't you brave throwing out this topic! I'm a bit too series about it all myself. I keep thinking of how much we have at stake and yet the young people seem to be pretty clueless about it. With that said, I would LOVE for the entire experience to be short, much shorter. But while the game show idea would be interesting, I think the best way to make the process faster and more representative of the people would be to take the money out of it. That in itself would eliminate many of the "actors!" Okay, okay, I will attempt to keep a sense of humor about it all! ~Kathy

Jono said...

Do I detect a note of cynicism? Or maybe a few notes. Actually, I think it's brilliant. Instead of a never ending election cycle that starts minutes after the winners are announced limiting it to one season is an idea I think most Americans would get behind. Speaking of behinds, why do we continually let the biggest horses asses run this show. It may be time for a much bigger change than any of them would want to confront. I'm getting old now, so maybe the kids will come up with something more useful than our current system. If we don't adopt yours, that is.

Tom Sightings said...

Dianne, I don't agree with Obama, but as I've admitted before, I'm voting for Clinton. DJan, if you don't laugh, you cry. And Jono ... you got me!

retirementreflections said...

Amen, Tom! A sense of humor on this topic is greatly appreciated right about now (as I sit here wondering 'when (and where) is this going to end??')
Donna
www.retirementreflections.com

Heidrun Khokhar, KleinsteMotte said...

Elecrions using electronics might be a fun way to go. But what neural network might host it? And how would the commercial timeslots be bought and sold? It is not really all about power and money and how to best fool the viewers into believing they have a say? Your observation about this election having caused a stir is certainly true. CNN has sent it out there on a global platform. Twieets are many.
And as I type this I sit in UK on BREXIT voting day. It has not had the same global air time yet it could have a global outcome.

Wisewebwoman said...

It's a horror show. You capture it well. Let's hope the younguns bring some fresh ideas to the gong show.
A good laugh. You remind me that there are many Usians of intelligence and wit.
XO
WWW

Tom Sightings said...

There's a pretty funny piece on Brexit from John Oliver ...
http://www.slate.com/blogs/browbeat/2016/06/20/john_oliver_insults_europe_while_making_the_case_against_brexit.html?wpsrc=sh_all_tab_tw_top

Janette said...

Both Clinton and Trump already had their shows- House of Cards And the Apprentice. Bernie is not rich enough to get one.
The results will be "same old" who ever gets in. They desire to preserve their wealth and be the biggest on the block.
The joke is on us.

Olga Hebert said...

You may have run with it, but clearly I had the idea first. In evidence my April post: http://confessionsofagrandma.blogspot.com/2016/04/weighing-in-on-politics.html

Can I sue for theft of intellectual property? I am asking Donald. He is not a lawyer, but I am sure he pays one or two.

Stephen Hayes said...

A fun post, tongue-in-cheek I hope. The founding fathers created a government with checks and balances to protect us from people like Mr. Trump, a rich person trying to buy the presidency.

Tom Sightings said...

Olga, I swear I didn't steal your idea, although I just went back and reread yours, and it's a good one! All I can say is: Great minds think alike!

Meg said...

A bomb shelter -- really??

Anonymous said...

I am totally disgusted with Donald Trump he couldn't get more crude if he hired an ad man to do his speeches, he fired his campaign manager because his wife told him it was her or him??? What kind of a guy is he well he is making billions from his businesses that is what he is not so much a policitican at all his telling the public he can fund his campaign who does he think he is God or somebody??? I find him repulsive..Hillary Clinton is raising money left and right and I mean big big money, poor Bernie was vilified for wanting all people to be able to attend college and the poor to actually get jobs and work on them..What a sham of an election, I might not vote whatsoever..although having a woman as president sounds mighty good right now! By election I will be so tired of the election I might just not vote whatsoever! Put a fork in me and I am done!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Arkansas Patti said...

I totally agree that there has to be a better way. Coin toss perhaps? Best two out of three? My tongue is in my cheek also:))

Meryl Baer said...

How about an athletic contest? Maybe a fast walk around the White House block...or a stationary bike ride, fitting for candidates going nowhere. The election will not be over soon enough. How about a law limiting electioneering time.

Anonymous said...

Not a bad idea, except it doesn't take congress into account. This gun issue is a good case in point. What will it take to get congress to enact legislation to make guns, especially assult weapons, difficult to buy? These guys beholden to the NBA need to go.

Peggy

Carole said...

This is hilarious! I especially like the joke telling part of the contest. Someone who is going to be president shouldn't take themselves too seriously. I think Obama is one of our funniest presidents, at least in recent history. His comedic timing is nothing short of amazing. I love watching him in comedic action, especially at the White House correspondent's dinner.

Anonymous said...

If the UK can form a new government within 90 days, why can't the US hold a presidential election in that time?

joared said...

Why didn't you propose all this sooner -- before this election period? Oh well, there's always next time so keep honing the format.
I'm in favor of a system that shortens the candidates campaigning time. Your proposal melds well as an approach in our celebrity obsessed culture.

Laura Lee Carter said...

I just hope at the end of this reality show we can say, "You're fired!" and finally Dump Trump forever!