.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Thursday, December 07, 2006

American Idol President

As I stumble into bed, I leave you to ponder this latest bit of news.

Seems old Law and Order Assistant D.A., Sam Waterston, who does voice-overs for The Nation TV ads, and seems to revel in sticking it to Dubya in them, has got a brain-storm of an idea.

He wants the US public to go out and pick their President in online conventions.

Everyone from Jimmy Carter (peanut farmer millionaire) to Gerald Ford (blue-collar Midwestern football star), agrees it would be a good thing if that could happen.

Yep. That's right:

Me, you and anyone with a computer and internet connexion can select a candidate to run for President, thus ensuring, one presumes, that the process is henceforth more "democratric".

Well, if this isn't the living end.

One of the best things about America is that they take their country's history, PARTICULARLY their presidency, very seriously.

Candidates are gone over with a fine tooth comb, before they are seriously considered to be Presidential hopefuls. Goodness, even their wives come in for vetting. Just ask Senator Kerry.

And although the majority of US Presidents have come from the most modest of birth circumstances, that's not good enough for some people.

On paper, these same persons will claim the system is too tied with tit-for-tat politics, and monetary behemoths who virtually assure that candidates are handpicked to run for the two viable parties in the US:

Democrat. Republican.

I have even heard on NPR, shortly after the debacle in 2004 which inexplicably (to some persons' thinking) sent President Bush back to 1600, that maybe our system is flawed, including the US Constitution, which ensures by its strict guidelines, that only two parties are ever preeminent.

[.ed update- I believe the single greatest stroke of genius the Founding Fathers ever had, was their structure of government, not the least was their Electoral College. How sour grapes is it, when you want to scrap that, just because your guys don't make it into the White House, more often than not? Argh]

Perhaps we should begin from scratch and revisit the constitution to see where "we went wrong".

You have to be some kind of nutter to think that, and sadly, that person was a lawyer on a mission very similar to this one.

Of course, the thinking is that if the process is opened, perhaps left-leaning people would stand a greater chance to lead their country as President, since even if you come from working-class circumstances, the present system is geared towards elitism.

Elitism, that is, if you consider having a resume, demeanour, and character suited by long apprenticeship to the Presidency of the United States.

Why are we surprised that this is happening today?

We shouldn't be.

In this day and age of voting phone-ins, like the hugely popular American Idol, it is the logical next step to dialing up for the leader of the Free World.



You can sit by your computer, and choose your nominee for President, place a your Pizza Hut order, and bid for an I Love Ike button on eBay, all in one fell swoop.

America has never been a banana republic, and I don't think this attempt at lowering the standard for candidates to the Presidency, will make them such a country, any time soon.

That will only happen if this drive is successful, and a real-life Man of the Year character no one expected to succeed, does.

Because only in the cyberworld can a Robin Williams-like character be on the short list for Prez.

Even though the US is a haven for the world's castoffs, who can dream things unthinkable in other parts of this world, for some, that's not enough.

If you can't handpick the man (or woman), it's a sign your country's political system is rigged against the little guy.

Says Waterston about this project of his, entitled Unity08:

"Through Unity08, for the first time we are going to throw out the back-room deals," Waterston says in a video posted on the site. "You'll vote. You'll decide. Not the consultants and spin doctors. Not the special interests. Not the lobbyists."

No, you're right Mr. Waterston.

The land that brought you Andy Jackson, Abe Lincoln, Harry Truman, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton, could sure use some President Clays Aikens too.

UPDATE: Commenter Pete agrees whilst e-candidates might be a bad thing, if the process to ensure e-voting is ever made safe, he would be in favour of it.

As I have mentioned in the past, I am a (volunteer) poll worker. I have my own reasons for wanting people to come out and vote in polling stations:

1- There are very few semi-mandatory, adult communal activities out there these days, that practically force you to commingle with your fellow citizen.

There's the Department of Motor-Vehicles queue (which you can't send a flunky to do, no matter if you're famous), and voting, which you have to do in person.

Help me out here, but I think that's about it. Everything else, can be done in proxy.

Sure, there are absent ballots, but I am always pleasantly surprised how many people actually show up at polling stations on election day.

For the 2004 Presidential election, I was run off my feet as Clerk of the precinct, and I was as happy as a clam about it.

2- The topic of absentee ballots is a sore one with me. I feel badly for people who cannot legitimately vote on a specified day, but also, I know there are many people who do so out of laziness.

I'm sorry, but I refuse to admire people that they are voting AT ALL, just because they've asked to vote absentee. And my patience is tried when I hear they do so, because it's a "paper ballot", which can be counted unlike the new computer iVotronics.

That, I feel in the heat of the moment, is a slap to my face and to the face of every poll worker there, who has taken innumerable security steps to ensure the inviolate nature of the procedure.

But absentee ballots DO exist, and in fact, in some Florida counties even, e-Voting exists too.

As you can imagine, the first reports of e-Voting in Florida were glitchy. VERY glitchy. Sites being down, information badly input, or confusing to the voter.

What people want is fool-proof, and that's just not how it has ever been, or will ever be even in a country as customer service oriented as the US.

(One girl aged 19, who forgot her ID and thus had to be processed by the Clerk, told me in a foul mood, "I can't believe you need an ID to prove this is my precinct in the year 2006. This is America. We send people to the moon, but we can't let people vote?". How does one even begin to answer this logic, so I just smiled and apologised for her troubles)

Birthing pains will always happen, and unfortunately, that's true of voting -- the single-most important activity you can do, as a citizen.

So in summary, I don't like e-Voting because it lessens the need to participate in an important communal civic event, and e-Voting has the same remove as does absentee balloting.

The arguments made by conspiracy theorists are that allowing citizens to vote online will bring the "wrong people" to power.

Their constant refrain is that the Establishment would never allow people to vote, if they could truly lose power and let the little guy win.

Not only is this demeaning, and fallacious (the little guy IS part of the Establishment, in the form of ill-paid bureaucrats), but it's abhorent.

You can vote NOW, anyone can dammit, even "absentee" if you work and can't head to your voting place, since no one asks for reasons why you need an absentee ballot.

The only thing that prevents them is lack of motivation and not a little bit of indolence.

I hate when idiots weave fantasies about the powers-that-be to excuse people's very real personal failings.

9 Comments:

  • You're spot on, of course, Victoria. While I'd come somewhere near in favor of a CHOICE of some kind of online voting, (If it can be securely done, so that makes it a BIG if.) you point out the problem of making it the ONLY method of voting: only those with access to computers may vote. (And, to further cement my elitist leadings, I side with Jonah Goldberg who's said, you know, maybe it's not a good idea that everyone votes. Think about some of the good folks you stand in line with down at the local Wal-Mart or wherever. Nice people, sure, but do you really want them to choose the next leader of the world's last super power? Heck, I don't even want ME to choose the next leader of the world's last superpower!)

    While I greatly admire Waterston's work on Law and Order and elsewhere - and I realize he's a paid gun in all of this - his star falls a bit in my eyes with the advocacy of this kind of kooky scheme.

    By Blogger Pete, at Thu Dec 07, 06:14:00 am GMT-5  

  • Many of my friends, especially the male ones, seem to be proud of trying to remain 14 forever. Ideas like this seem proof of the countless attempts to fulfill this desire. No attention spans, no desire to admit the possibility of anyone else, ever, having a good idea different than your own. Having no sense of history is not as bad some people think -- not a lot of grudge carrying! -- but jeez, this is just getting wackier by the day.

    Hmmm...an "old man" rant! Haven't done one of those in awhile! Bully!

    By Blogger Ron, at Thu Dec 07, 10:31:00 am GMT-5  

  • As far as nutty Law&Order ADA-types, I prefer Michael Moriarty.

    By Blogger JSU, at Thu Dec 07, 12:22:00 pm GMT-5  

  • You're spot on, of course, Victoria. While I'd come somewhere near in favor of a CHOICE of some kind of online voting, (If it can be securely done, so that makes it a BIG if.)

    I admit to you, Pete, that I haven't thought out my stance on this fully, YET.

    Am I or aren't I, in favour of more computers in the future, for anything related to civic voting?

    Right now, the answer is a big, don't know.

    And it's not, like some conspiracists or Luddites think, about the nervousness about computers -- that's just silly.

    you point out the problem of making it the ONLY method of voting: only those with access to computers may vote.

    Renato and I were talking on the phone about this, the other day.

    I told him that in the Republic of Ireland, the government has a programme to give computers to those who we might term 'on welfare'.

    Being Conservative means many things, but fiscally, it means you want a smaller government, with little taxes, and few gov't programmes.

    I can foresee this exact problem above which you mention, that one day e-Voting will by inference mean that EVERY citizen having a computer at home, the cause for a new:

    - A new overseeing entity; a government Department (The Department of Voting?)

    - Allocation of tax funds to underprivileged people to buy them a new computer for each household

    - The registration of new Voter ID cards, to specify that you do have a computer at home

    Etc. etc. etc.

    No way.

    If e-Voting is ever mandatory, it'll take at least the same amount of time that televisions have taken in the US, to become prolific.

    Even so, it's not 100% saturation. 6% of US households do not own a TV, and I'm sure that will be a lot less even in the future, for computers (because they're not idiot-proof -- and I say that about people like my parents, medical doctors!).

    The more I begin to ruminate about the arguments out loud, the worse I like e-Voting...

    (And, to further cement my elitist leadings, I side with Jonah Goldberg who's said, you know, maybe it's not a good idea that everyone votes. Think about some of the good folks you stand in line with down at the local Wal-Mart or wherever. Nice people, sure, but do you really want them to choose the next leader of the world's last super power? Heck, I don't even want ME to choose the next leader of the world's last superpower!)

    That's where you and I part company, my dear Pete.

    I have the touch of the populist in me, and the single most rewarding experience I had in the mid-term 2006 elections, was when two different guys came to me:

    1- A greasy-fingered African-American mechanic who was an ex-felon but in his right precinct

    2- His colleague, who some would describe as "white trash", equally besmirched but NOT in his right precinct

    Needed me to help them out to vote.

    I LOVE people like that, and their happiness to vote, does my heart good.

    At the Oxford Union, we once floated the possibility of debating what if only those with university degrees would be allowed to vote (it was more formally put, but that's the gist of it).

    I pre-argued successfully that putting such a motion on the floor, would make an already exclusive body of bratty kids, look even worse to the townies.

    That's not the spirit that made Britain great, and I daresay, not America either.

    While I greatly admire Waterston's work on Law and Order and elsewhere - and I realize he's a paid gun in all of this - his star falls a bit in my eyes with the advocacy of this kind of kooky scheme.

    His brokerage ads annoy me.

    He sure likes capitalism, when it suits him.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Dec 07, 03:55:00 pm GMT-5  


  • Hmmm...an "old man" rant! Haven't done one of those in awhile! Bully!


    You go, girl!

    Are they bachelors? I find that bachelors stay immature the longest, present company excluded. ;)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Dec 07, 03:58:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Winnie the Pooh. Yes, that title slips out of a very hip fringe film – very in, very Red and very smug. When Communist comedians (Comicon?) start referring to the Latin Bear Fidel as Winnie the Pooh, it's a bit like David Letterman and Jay Leno doing John Kerry jokes. It humanizes the Castro man, who is demonic and beyond any redemptive humanization!

    Holy crap. I liked it better when he was a homeless drunk.

    (I'm so cruel)

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Dec 07, 04:00:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Err...

    6% of US households do not own a TV, and I'm sure that will be a lot less even in the future

    I meant that I think computers will not prove as popular as TVs have, just to clarify.

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Thu Dec 07, 04:01:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Sam's letting his acting gigs go to his head.

    "Hey, Sam! You ain't really a President! You ain't really Abe Lincoln! You be an actor-type feller! So shut up!"

    There. That ought to do it.

    Vicks: as a bachelor, may I say :p

    By Blogger benning, at Sun Dec 10, 09:58:00 pm GMT-5  

  • Heh, that's true, Benning -- Presidentitis has also struck Martin Sheen.

    It's just a role, guys. Get over yourselves.

    Cheers,
    Victoria

    By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Dec 12, 04:48:00 pm GMT-5  

Post a Comment

Who linked Here:

Create a Link

<< Home


 




Advertise on blogs
British Expat Blog Directory.