Friday, August 29, 2008

How We Should Choose Our President

Watching the Hollywood-orchestrated Democratic National Convention reminded me of the absurdity of how we elect our leaders: Four years of pressing fat-cat and special-interest-group flesh (now, often electronically) to pay for Vegas-style conventions, campaign "events," obfuscatory commercials, and media War Rooms.

Can someone tell me what's wrong with my approach to reinventing how we elect our leaders: A three-week-long, completely taxpayer-funded campaign, which would consist only of televised debates and a non-partisan statement of their voting records and platforms on key issues, distributed over the internet, or in print, on request?

The result would be:
  • Candidates not in the hip pocket of special interests
  • Incumbents not having the unfair advantage of getting more donations because donors like to contribute to likely winners
  • Better candidates would run because they didn't have to press the flesh constantly to get elected
  • Most important, the electorate would be better informed because the quality information listed above would not be overshadowed by the obfuscatory hype.


Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what's wrong. There is one advantage to having this election last so long: we get to know plenty about our candidates. If we had only three weeks to learn what we needed to learn about Barack Obama, many voters might experience massive voters' remorse if he was in office right now.

Also, any California voter can remember the circus that was the governor recall from 5 years ago. The candidates included several of the most unlikely, and the voters decided that an actor best known for saying "I'll be back" in a robotic voice was the best of them. He hasn't proven to be a great improvement over the person recalled.

This is to say that not necessarily the best people would run, nor be elected. And there might be too many choices to sift through in three weeks and find the right person.

If the election was really like your example, with three months instead of three weeks, it might work. We need time to know who we're getting and narrow down the choices a little.

Charles said...

The subversive acts that you describe only serve to embolden the enemy. Stay the course, Dr. Nemko.

Edward said...

The answer for the US is fully publicly funded elections.

The campaign period should go on as long as the candidate wishes to campaign and by whatever means they wish to campaign. However, there would be a hard and fast limit on the amount of money each campaign could spend. Each candidate would get an account at the election commission with a certain amount of funds in it. Once the funds run out, too bad!

The aim of such a system would be to fund a maximum of five candidates for each federal electoral office and another five each for the top five electoral offices in each state.

Even with extremely generous funding per candidate the cost of such a system could be kept below USD50 billion annually, or one tenth of the annual defense budget.

Democracy is worth it!