This Unholy Mess


New Electoral Paradigm: America’s Got Presidents!

We all hate our current electoral system. Campaigns drag on forever, they’re excruciatingly boring, and they cost the equivalent of Nepal’s GDP. And then there’s that totally embarrassing relic held over from the days of three-cornered hats and brandy flip, the Electoral College.
Americans are ready for something dramatically new and different. Something more suited to our culture, our sensibilities. And since we’ve now achieved such exceptional levels of tastelessness and superficiality in our public life—witness the 2016 election–I submit to you that in presidential elections we should use the selection criterion that has worked so well in other arenas: pure entertainment. Splashy, loud, crass, mind-numbing entertainment, the more brainless the better.
I give you: America’s Got Presidents!
This game-changer will be modeled on television talent-show formats that are already wildly popular. The big truth behind it is: if shiny objects are so attractive to us, why should those objects be things like the bangles on Beyonce’s bodice, when they could just as easily be the sequined jacket lapels of the guy who wins the presidency by reciting the Gettysburg Address in two belches. Or the woman who sits backward on the piano bench and plays a medley of Barry Manilow tunes. I don’t know about you, but I would bet lots of Americans would vote for someone who could bring tears to their eyes with a kazoo rendition of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown.”
Now you might be saying to yourselves, well, this is just another snarky idea put to paper in order to get a rise out of the reader. Well, of course. It’s all of that. But don’t sell it short before you hear the really great bits. For instance, “America’s Got Presidents!” would strictly limit the length and scope of campaigns. We can limit the primaries and the campaign itself to, say, one two-hour show a week for five weeks. Three of those would offer plenty of time for primary hopefuls to take to the stage in leotards, doing interpretive dances to the strains of “Sweet Home Alabama,” or showcasing their ventriloquist skills. Then the last two weekly shows allow the two finalists to show us what they’ve got: tumbling, magic tricks, yodeling, a championship exhibition of blindfolded beer pong, whatever they can manage that will keep our brains as engaged as our mouths are with those big plates of nachos on the coffee table. What we will have achieved here is nothing less than revolutionary: the cost of the entire process will be cut dramatically, like Kellyanne Conway’s Politifact rating whenever she speaks. Those endless, noxious ads will be banned from the airwaves, too. Look at all the time Americans will save. Only 10 hours of total viewing, and you’ve got yourself a president!
And, as the infomercial voiceovers say, “Wait, there’s more!” If the networks are unhappy about losing advertising revenue, they can boost their numbers by staging bloody cage matches between executives to determine which network gets the rights to “America’s Got Presidents!” in a given election year. You can count on huge audiences tuning in to see Les Moonves of CBS and Bob Greenblatt of NBC, stripped to the waist and clawing at each other’s eyes.
I’ve saved the best news for last, by the way. What is one of the most stunning and shameful statistics that is trotted out during virtually every election cycle? It’s our disgracefully low voter turnout. It looks as if we really don’t care who pardons the annual Thanksgiving turkey, or gets to order grilled cheese sandwiches from the White House kitchen in the middle of the night. We look apathetic, unengaged. But that’s only because all that endless, dreary talk about policies and laws and civic responsibility is so totally boring. “America’s Got Presidents!” changes all that, not just through scintillating demonstrations of talent, but by allowing people to use their cell phones to text their votes for the winner. What are we talking about here, do you think? Ninety percent turnout, as opposed to the fifty-five we’re used to seeing? If you didn’t believe it was a revolution before, you can believe it now! And if there are some old people, or other backwater losers who don’t have a smart phone or can’t manage a simple text, who cares? The votes of people like that can’t be worth much, anyway.
A new day is dawning here in America, and you’re going to want to be part of it. So next election cycle, be sure to tune in to the show! Grab your meds, your favorite vape, and your Big Gulp—and get ready to vote!

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