So, it was a hot day, I had worked my obligatory five hours, and it was time for a cold one. I stopped by my local pub and as usual, my buddy Dickie was there watching television.
“So, watching election coverage, eh?” I asked perceptively.
“You know,” he said, “This is like a soap opera that should have been cancelled years ago, but still goes on because somebody, somewhere needs to fill up the air waves and have a reason for more commercials.”
“Agreed. It’s the American system. What do you propose that would be better?”
“Well,” he said thoughtfully, “I would implement a 5-step list of changes for the election process.”
“I’m with you. What are you thinking?”
“One, it can only last four months. That is plenty of time to run an election. Plus, they repeat the same stuff all the time anyway, so what’s the loss?
"Well,” I noted, “advertising companies wouldn’t be too happy.”
“And rich billionaires wouldn’t have as much to donate to. That’s part of the reason for it. Plus it would save our sanity, because after a year-and-a-half of bashing each other, I’m surprised there isn’t another civil war. We’ve become the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, fighting about nothing.”
“What about all of the primaries that we run to pick candidates?” I queried.
“Get them done in the first two months and make them all standard, so we don’t have to screw with caucuses, super-delegates, whatever in the hell they are, and all the rest. Get ‘em in, pick the ones you like, get 'em out.”
“Ok so far. What next?”
“Two,” he said, “use the rules that high schools and colleges demand from debate teams; stay on the topic, treat each other with respect, demonstrate personal and intellectual integrity and let your ideas either win or lose based on merit.”
“What are you, nuts?” I asked. “You’re trying to ask adults running for office to behave like students? It’ll never work. What about all the snide jabs, the name calling, the smirks, the lies, the exaggerations? Are you trying to kill politics?”
“Yikes, you’re going to make things tough. What else?”
“Three,” he continued, “I’d make it a rule that so-called Journalists and moderators have to ask actual questions instead of the nonsense they ask now.
“Well, almost no one ever asks "how” in either press conferences or debates. How are you going to pay for free college? How many new law enforcement people will we need to hire to deport illegal immigrants, man a 2,000 mile wall, fix the middle east and stop violence in big cities? How are you going to stop us from having a Congress that spends 50 percent of its time fund-raising? Granted the American people have the attention spans of most gnats, apologies to the gnats, but we accept this crap they feed us, then pontificate strongly about our candidates when we don’t have any idea what they will do.“
"So, you actually want information from these people,” I said, “not just trivial crap. Aren’t you ignoring the great sound bytes? What about the day-long discussions about candidates saying something off-color? You’re going to put a bunch of color commentators out of work.”
“Maybe they can get jobs reporting,” he said.
“Four, the parties can only get together during election periods. Think about what party establishments do these days. Raise money, raise more money, raise more money. Defame the other side, continually and with extravagant marketing plans. Strategize how to con the public. Kiss up to the big spenders and big influencers, whether rich guys, the abortionists, the anti-abortionists, the NRA, the environmentalists, the blacks, the Latinos, the women, the veterans, whomever. None of this does a thing for the American public. Yet it has become common practice, before the elections and while our elected officials are in office. Get rid of them.”
“Interesting. You’re saying that the party machines should only exist during election times to support their candidates.”
“Maybe a month longer to gain support,” he said, “but no more. They don’t provide any value but to create distrust, anger and hate for the other side. When is the last time either party came up with actual policy positions at all, or any that made sense? All they do is feed out negative comments, exaggerations, lies and propaganda that the public laps up and spits back out. They’ve become like the Communist Party. No wonder so many people are pissed. Plus the candidates they back suck. They help run the people we all wanted to beat up in high school.”
“That may be a little harsh,” I said, “but I get your point. After all, that’s why they hire all of these brilliant "strategists” to manipulate the thinking of the huddled masses. What’s last on your list?“
"Five,” he continued, “you limit the money in campaigns and let politicians do their jobs. Corporations ain’t people. Lobbyist have one thing on their minds. Rich guys can only contribute maybe five grand. You want to donate to something? Save kids. Save elephants. Save trees. Or buy a country. Who the hell cares, but you don’t buy our elections.”
“That part isn’t too original,” I noted. “They’ve been talking about those things for years.”
“Yeah, and what has been done? I didn’t say this way going to happen. I just said it is what I would do.”
“So, I finished, "maybe you should run. I might vote for you.”
“Naw,” he said, “I’m like the politicians; I can say lots of stuff, but it’s the doing that’s hard. Plus no lobbyist, corporation, rich guy, or party guy is buying my beer. I gotta earn it.”