Here's a simple thing we can all do to make our planet a better place right now: have the presidential election in November. November 2007, I mean.
I can see no good reason to wait until November 2008 and plenty of good reasons to get it over with sooner rather than later.
First of all, it would be the kind and gentle thing to do to President Bush. He seems pretty tuckered out. His Justice Department is falling apart, the war is going all wrong and he's not going to get anything out of this Congress. Letting him wander off into sunset a year early is the humanitarian course.
Besides, we're already in campaign mode. Big time. We've had a couple debates. There's no reason we need to hear a whole lot more from Tom Tancredo and Dennis Kucinich. Some candidates are even running TV ads already. We've had some smear campaigns, gaffes and temper tantrums. What more do you need from a primary season? Are you really and truly looking forward to another 10 months of primary campaigning and then 11 more months of a general campaign? Didn't think so.
Campaigning brings out the worst in the system. That is a bad thing because campaigning has replaced governing as the special thing politicians do for a living. Campaigns attract politicians to microphones and cameras and that's not something we should encourage. And presidential campaigns in full swing (and that's where we've been for four months) are the most egregious periods of Politicians Acting Out. We need less PAO, not more.
Moving up the election would also save the country about a billion dollars. That's perfectly good American money that could be better spent marketing beer or botox instead of politicians.
Some will say there are practical obstacles to my well-thought out proposal. I say: obstacles schmobstacles.
This is the United States of America and we can do what we want. A constitutional amendment here, some new state laws there and we can elect a president in '07. Come on kids, we can do it!
Here's how I see it playing out:
We'll have a couple more big debates with all the fringe players. We'll get all the primary ads out of the way in June and July when no one watches TV.
And then on the last Tuesday of July, we'll have a jumbo-primary called Vendetta Tuesday; all the states except Iowa and New Hampshire will have primaries. If there's a tie, Iowa and New Hampshire can have primaries on the next two Tuesday's and still feel very special.
Right after the primaries, Mayor Bloomberg and Senator Hagel can announce their third party, bipartisan ticket under the banner of Unity '08 (Bloomberg can be the Democrat, by the way).
The parties can then have their conventions in August, when it's hot and Americans are on vacation. That would still leave a couple weeks to speculate about who the vice presidential nominees will be, which is the most fun part of the campaign anyway.
I would suggest the conventions be held for one day each, not four. Long conventions are sooooooooo 20th century. This way the conventions can be held on back-to-back days and they can even use the same facility. I know it's hard to get a big facility on short notice. But I believe the Princess Chateau banquet facility in Paramus, New Jersey is available on the Wednesday and Thursday before Labor Day and, according to the Web site, it has an "ambiance of elegance and grandeur."
Under my plan, the final surge, the general election, can begin on Labor Day as usual, just a year early. Staged and choreographed debates, negative ads, dirty tricks, phony-baloney controversies and character assassinations can all revert to the normal pace.
Next thing you know, it's November 7, 2007 and we're either picking a Cabinet or counting chads. Either way, we won't be in for another year of political yada yada.
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By Dick Meyer