a real mother

Is This Reality? (an Election Day reprise)


For Election Day, I dug up a column from 2008 where I suggested that the Presidential Election would be more interesting if it were more like a reality show.  I was only kidding, people.

Now – GO VOTE!!!



I love presidential election years.  As a political junkie, I love the debates, the verbal sparring and the meaningful discourse.  I love hearing the candidates parse the issues.  But as I watched yet another debate where the field of candidates clamored to out-answer one another, and at times threatened to break into a full-blown Jerry Springer Show moment, I couldn’t help but think something has gone horribly wrong with this process.

But my good ol’ American pride jumped up in full force – that’s why this country is great, we get to cast our vote for the president.  It’s a democracy dammit. Your vote counts, unless of course, your chad is hanging.  It is our right, duty and obligation to participate in the political process. Casting your vote for the leader of the free world is one of the traditions we hold sacred, right behind jury duty.  But as I heard the candidates drone on with talking points that didn’t even match the question, I couldn’t help but wonder if we could improve the system.  If a political junkie like me is getting bored with it, what’s the average take-it-or-leave-it voter thinking?  With the thought of having to endure a year of political commercials and endless debates where “Oh yeah, YOUR greasy granny” has become a perfectly acceptable retort, I’ve come up with a plan revamp politics as we know it.  It’s a world free of electronic voting machine hassles, hanging chads and superdelegates.

This plan is based, in part, on an alarming trend – more people can name who is on Dancing With the Stars or the American Idol finalists than can name the current members of the presidential cabinet or sitting members of the Supreme Court.  The Nielsen polls really say it all, the American public loves reality television, the stars and a bit of drama, so why not pack all of that into our presidential election?

What this country needs, and what I think Americans would support, is a presidential election based in reality – reality television, that is.  With the popularity of Survivor, Fear Factor, the Great Race and Who Wants to be a Millionaire, wouldn’t it be infinitely more fun (and entertaining) to see the presidential candidates do something other than wear a suit and tie (and now this year even pantyhose) and drone on like some Disney animatronic.  And just for fun, let’s give a nod to the one of this country’s long-time annual television traditions, the Miss America Pageant, and include a swimsuit competition as part of the festivities.  Let’s give the American voter the whole she-bang.

Now I’ve repeatedly heard John McCain’s views on the war, but can he merengue with J. Lo?  Sure he’s tough on crime but does he know the words to Dude Looks Like a Lady?   Hillary wants universal health care but would she be willing to bob for a pig’s tongue in a vat of lard?  She’s made it perfectly clear that she doesn’t bake cookies but does she have what it takes to be the next Iron Chef?  I know Obama wants to lower taxes for the middle class but how does he look in a swimsuit?  We know he has a plan for getting the troops out of Iraq but can he sing like a true American Idol?  These are issues that we as a nation could embrace.  I’m betting that the American public would be glued to the tube each week giving each episode their undivided attention.

I say out with the delegate system and in with Don’t Forget the Lyrics.  I mean, if you can’t remember the words to Philadelphia Freedom, should you really be president anyway?  We could make it a year-long competition, throw your name in the hat and get ready for the weekly challenges which would be broadcast live on CNN.  By November, it would be narrowed down to the lone Survivor after the other candidates have been voted off the island.

And just like American Idol, why limit the votes to just one?  Just dial the 1-800 number or go online and cast your vote.  Again and again and again.  Vote early, vote often.  We’ll not only Rock the Vote, America, we’ll get the reality in American politics that we deserve.  What’s the worst that could happen? No matter who wins, at least we’ll have a hoofer in the White House.