There's a Better Way for Americans to Elect a Leader

By Mather, Hal | The Florida Times Union, November 1, 2008 | Go to article overview

There's a Better Way for Americans to Elect a Leader


Mather, Hal, The Florida Times Union


Byline: HAL MATHER

Change. This word has been used ad nauseum over the past two years by all presidential candidates plus numerous others. Unfortunately, no one is talking about the biggest change needed - a change in the way we elect a president.

Today's process is based on bribery and personality. Bribery to get the funds from people and companies, and personality in front of an audience, TV or otherwise. Where are the issues of intelligence, knowledge of world affairs, statesmanship and training?

When the Constitution was written, only male, landed gentry were allowed to vote. The selection of who would run for president was controlled by the political parties. The candidates were known to most of the voters so an intelligent decision was usually made. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Abraham Lincoln are some of the results of this system.

Since then, women and all men have joined the voting pool. Today, very few people know the candidates and have to rely on the news media and ads to come to a decision. This usually results in most people voting, as in my case, not for a candidate, but against one. Hardly the best scenario to choose a president.

Another issue is the length of the campaign. Two years with money flowing like water to pick a so-so candidate is far too long, wasteful and boring. After a while, lots of people tune out of the "circus" and miss learning what is really different about the party platforms and the candidates' ideas.

Is there a better way? I sure hope so. Let us look at the Europeans, not because that is the type of parliamentary process we need, but to see what we could learn from their election system. If we find some good points, then we could modify them to make them truly American.

First, the prime ministers of European countries are the leaders of a given political party. They have been in politics for years, in several posts, perhaps including at cabinet level. They have had lots of training on their way up and they have shown capability in various positions. They then have been elected by their party to lead them into the next election. …

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