Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I Save American Democracy! (You're Welcome.)

--> I have some wonderful common-sense plans for saving American democracy. The obvious first thing we need do is outlaw political advertising. For the most important offices, many people vote on the basis of which candidate’s are the more compelling attack ads on television, with the result that they are voting for neither the candidate’s policies nor even personality, but for how effectively the advertising agency he or she has hired can manipulate us emotionally. The more money candidates raise, the more they can spend on television advertising, and the more “we” wind up voting for one ad agency or another. Candidates typically raise money by allowing themselves to be put in the pockets of very rich campaign contributors. This, of course, is inexpressibly disgusting.
I propose that the electorate make its choices based on a short (campaigning should begin no earlier than three months before the actual election) series of debates to be broadcast on public television. Why a three-month campaign? Because after around 90 days, the candidates, desperate, start lying even more brazenly than before (and sucking up to their donors) while the electorate, sick to death of hearing the phrase, “…and I approve this message,” 45 times per hour, becomes so indignant as to lose all reason.

Not, of course, that they had a great deal to start with. For which reason, I advocate wholesale disenfranchisement. It makes no trace of sense to me that some semiliterate imbecile with a We Kicked Their Ass and Took Their Gas bumper sticker should have exactly the same number of votes as the head of the political science department at Harvard. If prospective new citizens must pass a test, why not voters too? It is in no way unreasonable to deny the vote to one unable to correctly answer this question: What is the USA’s official religion? (A) Christianity (B) Islam (C) Buddhism (D) None of the above. One unable to point out on a world map the general whereabouts of the Middle East shouldn’t be allowed to help decide who’ll be in charge of sending 19-year-olds to die there defending Our American Way of Life.  Is it too much to ask a prospective voter to have some very basic understanding of The New Deal, for instance?

In view of the fact that the answer to the religion question above was (D), my strong personal preference would be to forbid political aspirants’ displays of piety. In the UK, major political leaders make no bones about their atheism. That, along with Black & Green chocolate ice cream and infinitely prettier supermarkets, is one of the things about which the Brits may be proudest.

Instead of telling us where they worship — faithfully, earnestly, every Sunday without fail! — I believe our own candidates should disclose their IQs. I wouldn’t want someone to vote for Candidate A over Candidate B because of a 14-point IQ differential, but should the electorate not be offered this food for thought? I’d also require all candidates to take the MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory), as prospective employees of many corporations must. If this rule had been in place in the late 1960s, we might have been spared Richard Nixon.

I believe that any male candidate advocating unequal protection under the law for homosexuals and the consensual kinky should be hooked up to a penile plethysmograph and shown gay porn. Those shown to be aroused will be offered a choice between public disclosure of the test results, on the one hand, or, on the other, announcing that they’ve decided to spend more time with their families. Somewhere in South America.

This may seem extreme, but I would also hook candidates up to polygraph machines before key speeches, and especially before debates. Should the machines detect that they’re lying (that is, speaking), they would receive a moderate electric shock. Do not ask me to believe you wouldn’t enjoy watching a political candidate twitching in discomfort until he or she could take no more and blurted, for instance, “I’m a venal little Koch-sucker who’ll do or say anything to get into a position of power, and you’d be better off voting for your neighbor’s cat.”

Oh, before I forget, I think lobbying should be declared a capital crime. I understand that such a declaration will affect organizations I support — the ACLU, Amnesty International, Green Peace, and so on — no less than the accursed NRA, but I believe we’ll still come out way ahead. If an organization wants one of our — stifle your guffaws, my dears! — leaders to know something, it can send him or her an email, with a lovely professionally designed PDF attached. I am available for design consultations.

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