March 10, 2008
Michigan and Florida in Modern Times (Bob Franken)
@ 10:28 am
How would that commercial go? “Some see the Michigan and Florida primary mess as a problem. We see it as an opportunity!”
Actually, by “we,” I mean “me,” but what the hell. By “opportunity” I mean the chance to be unbound from the old-fashioned ways of solving this idiotic dilemma.
About the most adventurous idea they’re discussing, beyond the traditional voting booth or caucus, is a postcard primary.
Wowee-zowee! Is that edgy or what? Actually, the word that more immediately comes to mind is “timid.” Isn’t it time we started thinking outside the ballot box?
Actually, there are some alternatives in plain sight, particularly if you watch the Fox network during primetime.
I’m thinking, of course, of “American Idol.” Instead of a debate, each candidate performs his and her song and dance. Rather than passing judgment, Randy, Paula and Simon get to ask some dumb follow-up question. Following that, the residents of Michigan and Florida vote by phone. Each must press in a registration number, which is used once then disabled to prevent duplication.
The winners are announced on a special program the next night before a studio audience made up of potential delegates. Heavy security is provided to control any brawls between winners and losers in the crowd.
For that matter, why bother with TV at all? Why can’t the whole thing be presented over the Internet? The candidates can make their pitches; we could call them “conversations” or Webcasts and maybe even hold online chats. The voters could then express their preferences at a special site: www.debacle.com. Obviously, administrators would arrange cyber-protection to keep out hackers and prevent identity theft, but when have those ever been big problems?
Some might suggest that both these strategies favor Barack Obama, because it is his barely-out-of-puberty base that would be more inclined to text in something like “OMG! OBAMA!!!” Perhaps we coud devise a system that combines the higher-tech balloting with the regular snail-mail. That would be more favorable to the Hillary Clinton supporters.
Yes, I know, there will be the negative Nellies who nitpick about the potential for fraud and technical breakdown, but could this be any more screwed-up than the usual voting machines? I doubt it. It certainly could not be any worse than the dilemma we’re facing. The leading lights who managed to disenfranchise the people of Florida and Michigan are now the ones proposing solutions. The best idea of all is to ignore any of theirs.