I rarely get political on my blog, but there I was sitting in my thinking chair on the back patio…thinking. Maybe our whole system for electing a President is out of date and out of touch. We’ve been going with the basic two-party system for most of the country’s history. Candidates emerge every four years; we watch them debate on television; then we see one of them nominated at his/her party’s convention; the selected candidates campaign and debate some more; then we go to some designated polling place, wait in line and vote. I acknowledge that independent candidates can participate in this process, but when’s the last time one of them won?
So what’s missing from this picture? I was thinking the Internet is missing. True, some of us follow the news, hence the campaigns, on the Internet, but it plays no functional role in the electoral process after that. When you consider how prevalent the Internet has become in the daily American lifestyle, it is a bit of a puzzlement why it doesn’t play a more significant role in the most important election process in the USA.
Okay, I’m sitting in my thinking chair, as I said, and I am thinking how the Internet could provide a more relevant and meaningful election process. Here’s what I came up with…
First of all, if representatives from the two primary parties wanted to participate, that would still be okay. They would be allowed, along with millions of other individuals, including you and me. Like anything else on the Internet in which you participate, candidates would fill out a form containing all their personal information. They would then be run through one of those Internet services that claim to know every social fault anyone has ever committed and individuals would be deleted if they did anything criminal, immoral or otherwise unforgivable. Millions of people go through screenings at airports everyday–we can handle it.
Once successfully vetted, candidates would be placed on a central website featuring a small photo and profile of everyone running for President. Viewers could click on any photo and be linked to that candidate’s page. All the candidates would have something like their own Facebook page. It would feature a pre-established list of the major issues. Candidates would enter a statement of position for each issue. They would also provide a personal profile and be able to make daily postings and respond to questions from anyone accessing the page. There could be ongoing webcasts, podcasts, you-tubes–whatever–which the candidates could use for campaigning, advertising or participating in debates. Candidates could also advertise and promote themselves on other media.
The Presidential campaign would run for, say, six months. At the end of every week, those candidates who failed to generate a specified level of response from the public would be eliminated. The levels would be set high so hopefully the most talented survive and they represent a manageable number in he end. The same process could be activated for Vice-President. Attention to this kind of elimination process isn’t anything new to many us when you think how many people in this country participate in March Madness every year. Then, on election night every registered voter could go to the central website and vote for the candidate of his/her choice and whoever had the most votes at Midnight would win.
Now, I know there are a gazillion details that would have to be worked out, but think of the possibilities: almost anyone could open a campaign; the two-party system and its conventions featuring people in silly hats would be eliminated (not a bad thing if you ask me); the public would have an ongoing opportunity to participate weekly in narrowing the field of candidates; and, finally, I would receive a Nobel Prize for developing the entire concept.
If websites like amazon and Facebook can handle the intricate traffic of millions of Internet customers, there is no reason there cannot be a website capable of handling the election. If practically everything we do today is via the Internet, then it is not so far-fetched that we use it to elect a President.
So there you have it…another episode from time spent in my thinking chair on the back patio. Oh, yeah, while I was thinking about all this, I also thought about whether or not the grill needed a new cover and I decided it could wait until spring.