Sunday, March 27, 2016

If We Get Through the 2016 Election Alive

Preach it, Fred Thompson.

This election cycle has come about through a perfect storm of unregulated campaign practices, bad choices, worse choices, weak candidates, ratings-hungry media networks, out-of-control narratives, epistemic closure, and not enough donuts.

Right now, the best our nation - and the world - can do is ride out this storm to its ugly conclusion, and make an honest assessment of just what the hell went wrong and what can be done to prevent this debacle from ever happening again.

With regards to the Republican Party - where most of the damage is self-inflicted but reaching out now for innocent bystanders - these are the points they have to address:

  • They allowed an inexperienced, uncontrollable amateur to take the lead of the primaries race, overtaking seasoned veteran politicians with years of legislative or executive experience. Worse, this amateur is a flat-out con artist with little love for the party or the nation's well-being who is only in it for himself.
  • They allowed the campaign field itself to become cluttered by too many candidates, which weakened the chances of their preferred "Establishment" candidates to forge an identity with their voting base.
  • They lost control of the party Narrative by allowing themselves to play to - and get played by - their media cohorts, who are more obsessed with maintaining anger and outrage to boost ratings than keeping the voters genuinely informed.

So if the Republican Party survives any of this, the party leadership needs to do at least these three things:

1) Stop lying. Not only lying to Americans about the issues but they need to stop lying to themselves about what's really going on in the Real World. This epistemic closure they're in had convinced themselves A) their candidate field was top-quality (nope), B) they understood their voters' interests (nope), and C) they could control the situation (aheh, nope).

2) Establish one simple rule about running for President on the Republican ticket: whomever puts in for the Presidency has to have served one elected term of office as either a Congressperson, Senator, or Governor. This weeds out the unqualified candidates - like Trump - right off the bat. This rule would have forced Trump to have made a try at an earlier job like Governor of New York... which would have exposed how inexperienced (and vulgar) he is at politics and soured his fanbase.

Sure it may hurt the party to block their business CEO elites from running, but let us be honest: being President requires the right kind of experience, and for all the Republican bluster about "running things like a business" the public sector really shouldn't. This may block qualified persons who have served only as members of a Cabinet, but usually your Cabinet members have already been elected officials at some point before getting tabbed for those jobs (it's rare for a Secretary of State or Treasury or Other to have been only for nominated government positions). And a good Cabinet member with a solid record ought to be able to find a safe district back home to earn his/her dues as an elected US House official before tossing his/her hat in the Presidential ring.

While the Constitution does not have experience as a qualifier - only age (35), birth (as a citizen), and residency (14 or more years in the US) - political parties CAN set their own requirements and can filter out prospective candidates this way.

This is something Democrats can do as well. Onward...

3) Admit that unregulated campaign financing with outside SuperPAC groups was a bad idea.

Thanks to the Citizens United decision, the party deep-pockets no longer had to "pay" into the party system to donate for their preferred candidates. They could just pay directly to those candidates. This weakened the power the party could wield as a means of controlling the Narrative and controlling who ran for the Presidential nomination.

As a result, a lot of candidates jumped into the ring on the hope and promise of a deep-pocket sugar daddy paying the bills (indirectly) for them until the cows came home. Problem became that too many of them did: the Establishment couldn't even determine who among their own - Jeb, Walker, Rubio - they could back early and often. It didn't help that the one who could fund-raise the best - Jeb Bush - only did so because of his name and family's prominence and not on his own qualities that turned out to be terrible on the national stage.

Another result has been the lack of accountability in all that SuperPAC money going in and yet little sign of that money going out to genuine GOTV efforts and voter enthusiasm. Reports about some of the campaigns - hi, Ben Carson - turning into rip-offs popped up during this election cycle.

You're going to have to get your Congresspersons to get together and craft some legislation to curb the campaign finance abuses you unleashed with the Citizen United deal. Otherwise the ones getting hurt by it will be your own Party.

And with regards to the Democratic Party...

1) You need to fix your system of caucuses vs. primaries. Caucuses are too confusing and aren't very representative of voter turnout compared to the results you get from primaries.

2) You need to justify this whole SuperDelegate thing. It's questionably undemocratic and unreliable.

3) You need to run candidates in every possible election. There are reports you don't have enough names on ballots for US House and state legislative races. That's insane: in this particular election cycle, the Republicans are vulnerable...

Did I miss anything?


Infidel753 said...

whomever puts in for the Presidency has to have served one elected term of office as either a Congressperson, Senator, or Governor.

This is actually a good idea and would indeed have prevented Trump, but as worded, it would also have prevented Eisenhower. Perhaps high-level military command experience could also be included as a qualification.

Paul Wartenberg said...

Ah, damn, and Ike is one of the ones I have a soft spot for.

We could open it up to a person with a Cabinet level position and/or Joint Chiefs commander. I'd much prefer someone have the elected experience though, as a means of demonstrating the skills for voter outreach.