Thursday, December 27, 2007

How to fix the US Presidential Elections

By "fix" I mean correct/repair/make better. There's already more than enough ways to make the other kind of "fix."

1) Curtail the campaigning season
2) Drastically shorten the primary's
3) Get rid of the Electoral College
4) Withhold results until all polls are closed

First, no one should be permitted to begin their campaign for the Presidency until February 1st of the election year. The way things are now you have people starting to stump in the summer, some 17 or 18 months before the elections. This leads to an overdose of debates and speeches and hype months before the actual election. Candidates use this time to trash their opponents rather than expound on the issues and positions of same. Limiting the campaign season to less than 10 months will force them to focus more on their platforms rather than discrediting their competition.

Second, there should be no caucuses or primary's before June 1st of the election year. What good is it to have pseudo-voting almost a year before the election? All it does is give certain States perceived yet worthless power. The results of Iowa and New Hampshire this early are truly meaningless. It's only the media and those who run the whole election dog & pony show that benefit from these ultra early pretend votes. Having only a few months will make the results more meaningful because no one State will be able to have an unfair advantage.

Third, there is absolutely no rational nor irrational reason to have the Electoral College. It was a necessity in the 18th and 19th centuries. But with the advent of ubiquitous instant information dissemination (telephone, radio, TV, the 'Net) the popular vote is perfectly able to make the decision. As it stands now, any individual vote has a 50% chance of being ignored. For example...

* Two candidates are running, A and B
* You vote for candidate B
* The final tally for your State is 48% for candidate A and 41% for candidate B
* Your entire State votes for candidate A

This renders your individual vote effectively uncounted. It is imperative for everyone to vote. But it would be nice if your vote went directly to your candidate. This will give the election results a much clearer picture of how the country really feels for the candidates and issues.

And finally, wait until the polls are closed before spewing out numbers. This will make it much more crucial that everyone turn out to vote. With the way things are now it is not uncommon to have many voters in western States not vote because they perceive the eastern States have already decided the election. Holding off the results until the elections are finished will, again, give an indisputably more accurate picture of what the voters are concerned about. It also helps give all the States an even playing field.

There you have it. If these changes were implemented the whole election process would become much closer to something "of the people, by the people and for the people."

Alas, it will never happen. There is to much money and power at stake for there to be any common sense changes to the political system. Of any kind. And even if everyone was of a mind to change things the media would not let it happen. They have become the news makers (as opposed to news reporters) and would never relinquish their grip on the power that entails.

So, do you have any ideas on how to make things better? What kind of changes would you put into place if you were "king for a day?"

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