My Modest Proposal For Election Changes

‘I’ ON CULTURE

So many people hated the last election season. All we heard was a lot of nastiness from candidates about their opponents. Everyone I know hated it. But I came up with a simple, and, I might add modestly, brilliant way to improve things.

The idea came to me while waiting on line to vote. I prefer voting on Election Day because a) things happen just days before that could affect my vote, and b) it makes me feel like I’m a real part of the process. But as I waited on a fairly long line, long mostly because we Floridians not only voted for candidates but on important issues like vaping, I noticed that there were all kinds of people on line. Some wore political buttons. And a lot of people grumbled about the whole campaign. And then, like a flash from somewhere (I can’t say heaven anymore; there are those who do not believe in it), of a way to make things better. I announced in a loud voice: “They should put a ‘none of the above’ choice for all of these races.”

I was surprised that I got a round of applause from everyone on line. Everyone was nodding. I was shocked. First of all, I had not realized that I had actually verbalized the statement. Second, perhaps for the first time in, well, years, people from all parties agreed on something.

Of course, there were a couple of doubters. One man called out that we might not have a government at all since the candidates were all so bad. That got many nods. And, yes, many of us voted for the least objectionable of the candidates. A lady then answered him, “Considering all the jerks here, would that really be so bad?” That also got a lot of nods.

I began to think about the implications of all that after I voted, disgusted at having been forced to vote for some people I felt should probably be in different institutions than the U.S. Congress, the governor’s mansion, state government, etc. Institutions like prisons and mental hospitals, perhaps. Then I calmed and realized that the system was not that bad. Possibly, maybe even probably, none would go to the mental hospital and only a percentage to prison.

But I also realized that having the “none of the above” option could be valuable. Yes, we might have fewer people elected, but it would force a change in the whole system. Let’s face it: what we had in a race like the one for U.S. Senate was, according to all the ads, an empty suit versus a Medicare criminal. There were a handful of ads responding to those, but, frankly, that is what most of us saw. I got telephone calls telling me that one or the other was worthless. Why vote for either?

But if all candidates had to beat the “none of the above” choice, they would have to give some good reasons why people should vote for them. Yes, anyone involved in federal government had something to do with budget deficits. And I suppose the “red tide” issue is important, but what exactly would a candidate do about it…except blame the other guy? Scott blamed Nelson as part of the national government and Nelson blamed Scott as governor. So, who knows? They are probably both right.

Maybe if candidates had to prove they were better than nothing they might start actually listing what they would actually do. OK, you hate crime, and it’s nice you’ve got some sheriffs who support you, while never noting they are members of your own party. Tell us what specific steps you would take to reduce crime. If you think you can stop the increase in national debt, describe specifically the items you would cut, and don’t just say “government waste” since everyone says that and no one does anything about it.

That one sort of small adjustment, forcing candidates to actually beat the idea of having no one there, could be revolutionary. The day after the election, I had no memory of anything specific proposed by any of the candidates who won… or lost.

Why not try this for an election or two? I doubt we could do worse than what we already have.