Monday, November 1, 2010

So You Think You Can Be President

This is a proposal of the most grave and honest intent.

Here it is. We have two years to get ready for this. I propose that we replace our current system of electing the President of the United States. Instead of the campaign/election process, the President should be chosen based on the call-in votes of Americans during a reality competition television show called So You Think You Can Be President. I submit that we will get better, more reliable results than we get with the current system. Voters will know their candidates much more deeply and they will be more confident and informed in their ultimate voting decisions. But the show must be carefully planned to yield the most reliable results.

First, there will be no party affiliations. Let's get that done from the start, because that is an archaic idea and parties cause more troubles than they abate. Parties are a smokescreen for cowardice and laziness of thought.

Second, all candidates must be over the age of forty and they must carry a master's degree in an academic discipline. (This helps to insure their potential as learners and thinkers.) Career politicians are welcomed to apply, but so are, say, English teachers, laywers, doctors, business people and librarians, etc.

Stage one of the competition:

People from each state who want to be President will upload a five-minute video speech to their state's designated site. They will explain in this speech why they want to and think they can be President. The people in the state will vote and the top vote-getter from each state will be sent to the So You Think You Can Be President White House -- an exact replica of the White House constructed on an undisclosed site. All 50 of the Internet picks will live there until the first big elimination: the American history test.

Stage two:

The American history test will be written by a panel of history professors chosen from American universities. The lowest twenty of the contestants will be sent home after the first episode of the show. The top 30 will remain and they will begin competing.

Our panel of American history professors will be replaced, at this point, by a panel of political science professors. These professors will administer a test, each week, on the Constitution. Any contestant who scores below an 85% on the test for the week will receive a penalty of a 10% decrease in his or her popular call-in votes for the week. Any competitors who receive below a 70%, at any time, will be immediately eliminated from the competition, regardless of their popularity. The test will be as objectively oriented as possible. Interpretation will be left for the ensuing competitions.

The show will be produced, of course, by the producers of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. On the show, there will be a panel of commentators who will have nothing to do with the voting process -- they just comment. This panel will consist of John Stewart, Dennis Miller, Glenn Beck, Rachel Maddow and Ben Stein. These judges will comment on the contestants' performance in much the same way as the American Idol judges comment when the votes are in the hands of the public. Since no one will be part of a political party, these judges will not be swayed by preconceptions and their backgrounds should be from diverse enough places that there is a give-and-take in their evaluative process, no matter how asinine or agenda-driven some of them might have been in the past. (It will be interesting to see where they stand on things when there no pre-labeling of contestants. If George Carlin were still with us, he would have been invited to be on the panel as the unwavering voice of reason, though he would undoubtedly have turned the offer down.)

Stage three: The weekly show will consist of challenges in which the contestants have to prove themselves in the areas of 1) ethics, 2) logic, 3) current issues and 4) presidential scenarios. The challenges will be devised by professors in areas related to each of these topics. Representatives of the religions of our country will also be part of the "ethics" element. The professors, clergy and producers will create and present the contestants with challenges and, each week, the public will vote for the winners after the breakdown and commentary of the judges; the three least-voted-for contestants will be eliminated each Friday. (The producers can iron out the process, but you get the point.)

During the process, contestants will be required to keep daily blogs regarding the show's progress. Everyone in the country (and the world) will have access to these blogs twenty-four hours a day.

The winner of the show will be our next President.

The prize: being President. There is no salary. For four years, the President and his or her family will be supplied with food, clothing and a pretty nice place to live in Washington, D.C. After that, he or she is free to compete on the show again, but after the second term, that person is on his or her own. No lifelong salary, no special benefits. The former President is free to work in any area he or she wants, but is no longer to be called "President." The ultimate reward will be to have served the American public, with no personal gain.

After this process we will have a President who is well known by the people before he or she takes office and who was chosen based on a display of intelligence, knowledge, logic, ethics and performance under pressure in simulated presidential scenarios. This person will have been chosen based on his or her ideas and not based on people's prejudice against or for subjective party stereotypes. The President will have been tested by experts in their fields and grilled, publicly, by some insightful comic and political minds. And, perhaps most importantly, the American public will have participated in the electoral process with the same energy they give to dance shows and singing shows, which, by my estimation, is about three-times the attention and thought they give to elections, including those who vote.

All advertising proceeds from the show will go to the country's poor. And me.

WHADDAYOU THINK? Revisions? Other ideas?


  1. i dont understand why anyone would want to be president, honestly. but fantastic idea

  2. Thanks -- I'm on board with you 100%. I've often thought about that. Can't think of a job I'd less want to have.

    And thanks for following!