“America is a democratic society. That means that ANYONE can be president. Look around you. Maybe you or one of your classmates will someday be the President of the United States of America.” – 3rd grade teachers everywhere
Now as a slightly more cynical woman in my early 30s, I know that’s not *quite* true. Anyone can be president, as long as they have a lot of money, a famous family with political connections, and an Ivy League education. This year might prove me wrong, but you also have to be a man.
The 2016 election seems to be more of a circus than usual, with a view towards entertainment and eye-rolling instead of civilized debates. There were penis jokes, for crying out loud. Watching these events unfold makes me want to change the whole election process.
My problem with the US election season is fourfold:
1. The primaries are dragged out for too long.
Why should it always start in Iowa? Why should it start in February and still be dragging on for months? Iowa sets the tone for the entire election, but why does Iowa get to set the tone? All of my preferred candidates were knocked out long before Montana got to vote, and there are eight states who never got to vote at all for a Republican candidate. The Democratic candidate was announced the day Montana got to vote, so there was really no point in voting as both sides had already declared their winner. We’re stuck with the choices that other states got to make. What if all of the primaries took place within the course of one month, divided by the four continental time zones? They could change it up every election: 2020 Eastern votes first. 2024 Central votes first. 2028 Mountain votes first. 2032 Pacific votes first. One election per week. Bam. Done. Media circus is over, everyone has 10 candidates or so to choose from instead of one or two. Results aren’t posted until everyone has voted.
2. Campaigns are all about who has the most money and how awful the other guy is:
Ted Cruz’s whole campaign seemed to be, “Well it’s between me and Trump. You know Trump is awful, so I’m the only one who can stop him. Vote for me and save yourselves from Trump! Never mind what I can or can’t do, I’m better than him, at least!” I can’t imagine a more humiliating, crushing night when it was fully revealed that yes, the country would rather have the world’s biggest windbag than Ted Cruz. Ouch. We’re down to Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump, so I’d like to see statements highlighting what they will accomplish rather than what their opponent will not accomplish.
I enjoyed an article from The Atlantic about Germany’s campaign season. It was much shorter, candidates were restricted to a single television ad, and they were required to promote themselves rather than tear down their opponent. It’s a great article and worth the read. I’d love to see a cap on how much money can be spent on a campaign. It seems such a waste. As president, they will have to oversee a complex economy. Let’s see how they do in the primaries with a set amount of money. What are they able to accomplish with that amount?
3. The electoral vote means my vote never matters:
Usually someone has already won by the time Montana’s three electoral votes have been counted. My co-worker told me about standing in line for three hours to vote, and when she got to the front of the line the results had already come in and the winner had been chosen. Who cares about what Montanans think, when you should be worried about what Californians and Texans think? If you add up the number of electoral votes awarded by all thirteen of the states that only have three or four votes, their total is still less than California by eleven. I wish we’d throw out the electoral votes and only have a popular vote. The Californians would still have their say based on their huge population, but my measly one vote would also matter.
4. I wish the president served a single term of six years:
I came to this conclusion after a very interesting and informative NPR radio program about campaigning and money. It a nutshell, politicians don’t have time to do their actual jobs because they’re so busy trying to raise money to be re-elected. A president’s first four years also allocates a lot of time to being re-elected, meaning that nothing really gets done unless they’re voted in for a second term. Instead of wasting four years and getting things done for four years, what if the president only served a single term of six years where they got a lot done?
An added thought: This interesting point was raised at dinner by someone from another country: The winner of the U.S. presidential race affects everyone in the world. Every. Single. Country. They follow the election closely. Shouldn’t the rest of the world be able to contribute as well? Say, 10%? Of all of my thoughts on the election process, this is obviously not likely to happen, but it’s an intriguing idea.
An additional added thought: Who picked the donkey and elephant mascots? Can we update that? Donkeys are kind of boring, and elephants aren’t native to this country. Wouldn’t it be more exciting with..
Bear vs Wolf
Elk vs Bison (My husband tells me this is an ox. But you get the idea.)
Sheep vs Goat