Fixing American Elections
The Republican National Convention is this week. It's a full week of nonsense that's meant to make the Republican Party feel good about themselves, despite having chosen a walking spray tan for their Presidential nominee. Except, the GOP didn't choose him, did they? And the Democratic Party didn't choose a woman who should by all rights be arrested in the near future. No, that's the public's fault. Because for some reason, the US has decided that choosing who will run their country should follow roughly the same process that is used to elect a Prom King. Well, I'm from a country that uses a more sane election process, and I'm going to tell you how to fix the Presidential election cycle, because I'm a smartass.
What To Do
So first of all, the whole thing needs to be shorter. Much shorter. There's no good reason it should take three years to choose one politician out of a pool of about 500. I think the whole thing can be cut down to just a few months, with an election in September. Why September and not November? I'll get to that, stop trying to read ahead.
"But Chris," I hear you say, "how can we squeeze a three year process down into just a few months?" First of all, don't interrupt me, that's rude. Secondly, you don't. You get rid of the current process, because it's garbage. The way your Presidential nominees are currently chosen is not based on who's best for the job, it's a giant popularity contest. There's no way Donald Trump could ever be the right man for the job, but he's the one who most appealed to the drooling racist masses, so he's the one who best espouses Republican virtues. Except if that was true, then he wouldn't have chosen Mike Pence to be his running mate in order to win back the GOP base. The reason the GOP have Trump as their presumptive nominee is that he yelled the loudest, and that's pretty much it. That whole process has to go, because this is the sort of candidate it's capable of producing.
14 Republican Presidential candidates for 2016
The current process basically consists of as many as 20 people nominating themselves for President, and then arguing amongst themselves for 2 years as they try to dig up as much dirt on each other as possible. You don't end up choosing the best of the bunch this way; you choose the one you hate the least. Sometimes the other side does the same thing, and you end up with two "least bad of the bunch" options, who then repeat the same process with each other. It's very public, very "lowest common denominator," and extremely expensive. And you aren't even guaranteed that "your" nominee will believe in the same things as you do.
So you get rid of that entire process, and instead you have each party choose their own nominee internally. They each spend time determining who will best espouse their stances and beliefs for how to carry America into the future, and on July 11th, exactly one week after Independence Day, each party says "Here's our Presidential nominee, and here's our VP nominee." Then they get two months of debates, campaigning, and TV appearances. There are at least five debates, covering Foreign Policy, the Economy, Domestic Security, and whatever other topics are important at the time, as indicated by both the news cycle and the platforms of the parties. Then, on September 11th, the vote happens.
The ballot has not two, but three options on it. The options are:
Your Democratic Presidential nominee
- The nominee of the incumbent party
- The nominee of the challenging party
- "None of the above"
If neither nominee gets 40% of the vote, or if the third option wins, then the parties have to choose brand new nominees, announce them on September 18th, and the process repeats, with the second vote happening on November 18th. Again, the ballot has the same three options (with the names updated). But this time, if neither nominee wins, then whoever is in office gets to stay there for another term, because America has made the decision that there currently isn't anybody better for the job being put forward.
What Does This Accomplish?
First of all, it addresses one of the biggest problems in American politics: corporate meddling. Since there's no massive campaign to raise funds for, there's no opportunity for any company or organization to donate massive amounts of money to buy a candidate's loyalty. You have the parties pay all expenses, and you require that all donations be public - no more anonymous donors to black box organizations that happen to make ads for a particular candidate. With the money taken out of the equation entirely, the public can be assured that each party's nominee is acting in the interests of the party and the country, rather than those of the Koch Brothers.
The second thing it does is it makes sure that each nominee is actually someone who the party believes in. It's no longer a popularity contest for the affection of the masses, but is instead the parties taking the time to consider what they think will be best for America in the next four years, and to choose the candidate they believe will have the best chance of bringing those ideals to the White House. There will still be a nomination and campaign process, but it will happen privately, with the various congresspeople and senators trying to convince the party leadership that they are the right ones to champion the beliefs of the party. With public opinion removed from the equation, the decision can be made almost objectively.
Another great benefit is the reduced duration. People have short attention spans these days. A campaign that lasts 2 or 3 years is a long time to pay attention to one thing. By condensing it to just two months, you leverage the public's desire for quick resolutions to things. Those two months become the most important months of the last four years. Everybody is going to tune in to see every debate, because they're only going to get these few chances to decide which nominee to support. The shorter campaigns are also much less expensive, and all the money that's not being spent on campaigns can be poured into other things, like ...guns. Americans like guns, right? Pour it into guns.
Your Republican Presidential nominee
But the absolute biggest benefit of this process is that it gives Americans a way out of a shitty situation. If you have two nominees who would both be horrible as President, then you don't want either of those people in charge. But under the current situation, you don't have a choice: you must choose one of them. With this new system, if your options are, say, a loudmouth bigot and a criminal, neither of whom should be in charge of the most powerful nation on the planet, you can officially nope out and call for a redo! "Both these people suck, please try again." And if the parties can't get it right the second time either, then you stick with what's been working so far.
A fringe benefit of this new process is that you don't get any "lame duck" presidencies. It doesn't matter if you're in your second term, because if neither party can come up with someone better, you're going to get a third one. So it's in your own best interest to continue performing well, so that if that happens, you're still on your game and able to do the job effectively. And if the incumbent President is on the first ballot, and "none of the above" is the winning option, then there's still a possibility for a new President from the same party to pick up the slack.
So under my system, the election of the leader of the free world stops being reality TV, corruption is reduced, better people get nominated, and September 11th gets reclaimed by the nation as the day they elect the next President. But then again, my system doesn't actually exist. Instead, America gets to choose between a loudmouth bigot and a criminal. Welcome to the Land of the Free.