Monday, October 4, 2004

Toward a better election...

Brett Rogers is weary of the frivolities that are driving the election process, and he proposes a better way. I admire his idealism in seeking a more substantive way of vetting our candidates. He says he can’t think of a downside to his proposal, but I can: it won’t work.

The truth is that a large part of the population isn’t interested in studying the issues and challenging their (or their candidate’s) ideas. Until very recently I fell into that category myself. We live in a sound bite world, on which the media thrives and the masses depend. Any campaign that adopted Brett’s high-minded proposal wouldn’t stand a chance.

An alternative would be to approach this from the other end, by requiring prospective voters to pass a “political IQ test” before they cast their ballots. This would lift the level of the debate by forcing both the campaigns and the media to target their messages at a higher caliber audience. This has about as much chance of happening as Brett's idea: none.

I think we're pretty much stuck with what we've got, and any attempt to improve it through legislation (which is the only way these ideas could be implemented) would be a disaster--just as campaign reform has been. Also, our current system, as superficial as it can be at times, does serve a purpose.

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