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I can't speak for anyone else, of course, but I can tell you that I have never been so happy to see any national election cycle over in my entire life, and I'm willing to bet that there are plenty of people out there who feel the same way.
Is it just me, or did it feel as if this election was 4 years long? By the time it was coming to a close I was thoroughly sick of hearing about absolutely everyone who was running for anything, regardless of party affiliation or philosophy. I just wanted them all to go away. There was something so intrinsically surreal about it all, as if it were some dreadful movie full of characters you can't stand that was way too long. Have you ever gone to a movie felt as if it were 6 hours long, had terrible writing, bad actors, characters that annoyed you, and either made you want to nap in your seat or caused you to drag yourself out of the theater feeling drained and heavily drugged? That's what I'm talking about. In the end the whole business felt like a bad science fiction story full of bizarre characters speaking endless pages of nonsensical dialogue that really said absolutely nothing about anything. Some of the characters in this drama slipped even farther into the black hole of crazy and said stuff so profoundly stupid that it made my brains start to leak out of my eye sockets. And the lying... Everyone knows that politicians and pundits love lying, but this time the lying was so overt, so brash, and so without any attempt whatsoever at subtlety or finesse that it was like being lied to by a 7 year old who tells you that the dog ate his homework and then, instead of being called on it, tells you the same lie the next day despite the fact that it wasn't remotely believable the day before. It was mind-boggling. Now that I think about it, maybe the election wasn't bad drama – maybe it was just bad comedy.
This election was the first for my son, Chuck, who turned 18 in October. Being a civic-minded, concerned young man, it was kind of a big deal for him. Unfortunately, by the end of the business, he wasn't looking forward to doing it again – possibly ever. If this cycle proved anything, it is that it only takes one election to turn civic-minded young people into cynical, electoral zombies. The day after the election we decided that the entire business needed to be radically changed. We came up with a cunning plan.
In England, the entire election process is only 6 weeks long. Candidates have 6 weeks to discuss their record, communicate their policies, and make the other guy look bad. If you can't do it in 6 weeks, tough for you. Granted, England is a far smaller country than ours, but thanks to the wonders of modern technology, that shouldn't be a problem. If each candidate was granted the same amount of air time to make their case twice a week for 6 weeks, maybe they would have to stop blathering on about stupid stuff and actually say something that matters to anyone. No more running around the country shaking hands and kissing babies, no more absurd kissy face with celebrities, no more appearances on late night talk shows, no more ads accusing your opponent of being an evil baby-eating alien from the planet Zork. Just business. Especially, since their entire campaigns would be restricted to these 12 appearances, which would be equally funded out of a restricted pool of public funds, no more $50,000 a plate fundraisers or insanely rich guys giving huge amounts of money to bribe candidates in order to further their insanely rich guy agendas. Think about this, according to the record, the 2012 elections probably over 5.8 billion dollars nationwide, and that is what was spent, not what was actually collected. Obviously, the people and organizations that donated this obscene amount of money did it because they had the cash to spend. Think how nice it would be if that money was actually put into the economy, used to create new jobs, or even paid to reduce the deficit. Imagine how helpful 5.8 billion dollars could be to the health, welfare, and prosperity of our nation. If you think about it, it cost all the various candidates 5.8 billion dollars to tell us that were are billions of dollars in debt. Crazy.
With our plan, every candidate would have an equal shot at making their case to the American public and anyone who tried to get tricky would be in trouble. No one would have any kind of unfair advantage and candidates would have to make their case to the American people concisely and clearly in a short amount of time. Public office would no longer be restricted to a pool of rich guys with rich friends. The money saved could be far better spent on other things. It's a win/win situation as far as I'm concerned. Best of all, we'll never have to wake up after election day again feeling as if we had spent the past 4 years being beaten over the head with a campaign poster.
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