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Faceless election

Just like Mama said...anyone can become President
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Ok, we know that the US election process sucks beans. Campaigns are a joke; when Madison Avenue tells more people what to think than the Washington Post, we've got problems. The only way elections can be fairly and intelligently run is to have the voters understand what the candidates stand for, without actually knowing who the heck they are. So:

One year before the election, anyone who wants to run for President submits his or her Social Security Number to an Election Board. Of these, 1,000 numbers are randomly selected. These are the Pre-Candidates.

The Election Board, comprised of about 2,000 government employees who voluntarily give up their right to vote for this cause, first screen the Pre-Candidates for felony convictions, death, forgeries, relatives in high office and other bad juju. Around April, they administer standardized tests on the Pre-Candidates.

The tests are excruciatingly grueling, and include basic mathematics (especially statistics), language skills, geography, history, current events, and international communications (questions such as "which of these statements would most likely anger Arafat?").

The top ten scorers of the Pre-Candidates are the Candidates. The Candidates are held incommunicado, though they are allowed any incoming media they wish. During this time, they write their positions on all the major issues of the day. These statements must be clear and concise, and if a randomly selected focus group can't figure out exactly what they're saying, they have to do it over. The Board also double-checks to ensure that the Candidates are telling the truth about what they believe.

In September the position statements from all ten candidates are distributed to every registered voter in the country. This is done with ample time for people to read the statements, but minimal time for people to start forming campaign groups for, say, #7. Federally sponsored groups hold seminars to educate people having problems understanding the statements.

In November, the vote happens, and everybody gets to find out who they voted in. Surprise--like as not it's a woman, and only statistics get in the way of seeing any of the various minorities in office.

darksasami, Nov 02 2003

The presidential dynasty http://archive.salo...re/2000/03/31/bush/
Information on America's ruling family. [darksasami, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

Google: Deliberative Democracy http://www.google.c...iberative+democracy
[beland, Oct 05 2004, last modified Oct 17 2004]

[link]






       I like the anonymity aspect of this. It might put a damper on the popularity contests. But over here, the Prime Minister is the elected leader of the party that holds the majority of seats in the Upper House (House of Representatives) - so it wouldn't really be applicable in Australia.   

       (By the way...   

       // Surprise--it's very likely it will be a woman //   

       Editorials in ideas often attracts many fishbones.)
Detly, Nov 02 2003
  

       Oops--I meant to go back and write a "This is for the US in particular" header, though it works for any country with an elected mock-king.   

       As for the editorial fish, I'll run thst risk. You have no idea how many editorials I forced myself to leave out to get to this point...I just wanted to point out that the chances of electing a woman would be about 1 in 2, as opposed to the current 0 in 1.
darksasami, Nov 02 2003
  

       From dictionary.com:   

       like·ly ( P ) Pronunciation Key (lkl) adj. like·li·er, like·li·est   

       1. Possessing or displaying the qualities or characteristics that make something probable 2. Within the realm of credibility; plausible   

       I think you guys are overestimating what "likely" implies. Now, I'm as big a pedant as anybody, but I'd much rather hear what people think about the actual idea. I will adjust the text slightly to reduce the chance of further misinterpretation.
darksasami, Nov 02 2003
  

       I think I'd rather be able to know who the person was, in order to be able to know if they were involved in any massive screw-ups in the past, and what their voting and speaking record so far has contained. I don't think there's any better way to know whether or not the candidates "truly believe" what they are proposing.   

       It would be nice if it were once again customary for presidential candidates to write long, detailed explanations of what they would do as president, and if everyone read them and based their vote thereon.   

       There does not seem to be a shortage of detailed plans on the web sites of the Presidential candidates currently campaigning; the problem is that most voters don't bother reading them, much less having a well-researched and well-thought-out opinion of their own on the issues at hand.
beland, Nov 02 2003
  

       [beland], the initial weeding process is there to eliminate people with massive screw-ups in their past. However, you won't know anyone's voting and speaking record, because in all likelihood you won't see any career politicians become candidates. This is in accordance with the ideals upon which democracy was founded.   

       //Senior politicians tend to be elected to the post of candidate, based upon their contacts in existing government and business. This gives them a measure of influence before they even go to the polls.//   

       Which is precisely the problem that this system fixes.
darksasami, Nov 03 2003
  

       I can't see this working. There is an element of charisma which is necessary to the job, in order to build a concensus behind any stance of an issue. Without at least hearing the candidates, I feel far too removed from deciding whom I'm voting for.   

       The pre-screening would be nice, though.
RayfordSteele, Nov 03 2003
  

       Seconded - we do need leaders, not people off the street. (Though sometimes I wonder if that's not exactly who we get when it comes to the US Presidential election.)
DrCurry, Nov 03 2003
  

       "The Election Board, comprised of about 2,000 government employees..."
...and are chosen by whom?
  

       "...screen the Pre-Candidates for ...relatives in high office..."
What's wrong with having relatives in office?
  

       "Around April, they administer standardized tests on the Pre-Candidates."
Who designs the tests? Who grades the tests?
  

       "These statements must be clear and concise, and if a randomly selected focus group can't figure out exactly what they're saying, they have to do it over."
Who chooses the focus group? How do I know it's random?
  

       "The Board also double-checks to ensure that the Candidates are telling the truth about what they believe."
How?
  

       "In September the position statements from all ten candidates are distributed to every registered voter in the country."
Who's paying for this again?
  

       "Federally sponsored groups hold seminars to educate people having problems understanding the statements."
Who guarantees these groups understand any candidate’s position(s)?
  

       So many questions, so few votes.
phoenix, Nov 03 2003
  

       I think we should eliminate anyone who wants to be in office from the running, then select the next president from the remaining sane people randomly.   

       Couldn't be that much worse than it is now.
ato_de, Nov 03 2003
  

       Well said, at least in the USA. The system was well-intentioned but they failed to anticipate the actions of scoundrels....the system was designed when it was thought that gentlemen would participate.   

       Me, I'm waiting for the day when your corporate sponser's logo has to be tattooed on your face. At least then the voters would know who you really represent.   

       And no speechwriters, and no teleprompters. If you can't do it on your own, then you shouldn't have the job.
normzone, Nov 03 2003
  

       A number of good questions posed by [phoenix].   

       // "The Election Board, comprised of about 2,000 government employees..." ...and are chosen by whom? //   

       Clearly there would have to be a sub-branch of the government devoted to it. The figure I gave was a very early guesstimate--that's why this is currently a half-baked idea. I envision this as a job rather than an appointed or elected position. Ideally, I would have UN oversight, but I haven't yet thought of a way to work that into a US procedure.   

       //What's wrong with having relatives in office?//   

       The establishment of ruling families, that's what. The Kennedys spring to mind, but the longest-running dynasty in the US consists of the following Presidents:   

       "According to Roberts, the list consists of George Washington, Millard Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford B. Hayes, James Garfield, Grover Cleveland, Teddy Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush." [see Link]   

       Given the performance of some of these Presidents, it is clear that family relations, not ability, is the deciding factor on their attaining the office. My system is all about ensuring capability first, then selecting based on political stance among qualified people.   

       //Who designs the tests? Who grades the tests?//   

       The tests are designed by people who are paid to do so. The material on the tests is open to public scrutiny--there are many versions of the test, though, so sheer memorization isn't enough to pass. Again, I like the idea of UN oversight, but that's not strictly necessary.   

       //Who chooses the focus group? How do I know it's random?//   

       Again, the Board does this. There are plenty of existing ways to pick focus groups randomly. It's not that difficult.   

       I ask you this, though: you have a lot of questions about "who's watching the watchmen." And yes, it's a valid concern. But how do you know, under the current system, that election tallies aren't being cooked and corrupted? I don't have a lot of ideas on how to enhance that process, but since there already is one, there's at least a baseline of integrity to build on.   

       //"The Board also double-checks to ensure that the Candidates are telling the truth about what they believe." How?//   

       That's a good question. I'm envisioning background checks, talking to acquaintances and relatives of the candidates, since with any luck they won't be career politicians. Obviously, any candidate who has held office can be scrutinized more easily.   

       All I'm trying to prevent is tree-huggers pretending to be Bible-thumping conservatives because they think the national mood points to banning abortion, or vice versa.   

       //"In September the position statements from all ten candidates are distributed to every registered voter in the country." Who's paying for this again?//   

       The people who currently pay for all the registration and voter information pamphlets that we currently get anyway: the American people. Elections already cost money. Given that this plan eliminates Federal money for individual campaigns, we're probably saving money overall--not to mention the financial benefits the country gets for actually having good leadership.   

       //"Federally sponsored groups hold seminars to educate people having problems understanding the statements." Who guarantees these groups understand any candidate’s position(s)?//   

       You don't get Federal sponsorship unless you demonstrate understanding. Not too hard to accomplish.
darksasami, Nov 03 2003
  

       Just one face left hanging on a chad could ruin the whole election...
Tiger Lily, Nov 03 2003
  

       This idea makes me miss Jimmy Carter. Normal, intellegent peanut-farming nuclear physicist elected president. How did that happen, anyway?
Worldgineer, Nov 03 2003
  

       I never figured that out, but the system sure corrected for that slip in a hurry, didn't it? To read Doonesbury of the time, you get the idea that it had something to do with John Denver.
darksasami, Nov 03 2003
  

       "All I'm trying to prevent is tree-huggers pretending to be Bible-thumping conservatives because they think the national mood points to banning abortion, or vice versa."
There's nothing illegal about a "tree-hugger" pretending to be a "Bible-thumping conservative". In fact, there's a recall provision in effect in case this very thing happens.
  

       " //"Federally sponsored groups hold seminars to educate people having problems understanding the statements." Who guarantees these groups understand any candidate’s position(s)?//   

       You don't get Federal sponsorship unless you demonstrate understanding. Not too hard to accomplish."
What?
  

       And from your link: "Not only is George W. Bush related to 16 American presidents, but he's kin to half the country, too." Which means there's a 50-50 chance you're inelligible. Find someone else like GW covering the other 50% and only [po], [UnaBubba] or [DrCurry] will be ellibible for office.
phoenix, Nov 03 2003
  

       That's the backup-plan for getting into orbit.   

       Forget Jimmy Carter. How did the US allow the 70's to happen at all?
RayfordSteele, Nov 03 2003
  

       //...presidency requires a political connection to people in the government, not just a mandate from the country.//   

       Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat??   

       I just don't get it. Are people really that opposed to democracy? Do we really believe that yeah, we hate the lizards, but we have to vote for the right lizard or the wrong lizard will get into office? Is the concept of monarchy so firmly ingrained into the human psyche that we can't bring ourselves to empower someone who wants what the people want, instead of what politicians want?   

       I dunno. I give up, I guess. Fishbone away.
darksasami, Nov 03 2003
  

       I'm with you [sami]. I think you're assuming quite a bit, but you're on the right track.   

       [jutta] Your arguement seems backwards to me. It's like saying the person who knows the right people should be allowed to run the country.
Worldgineer, Nov 03 2003
  

       No, it's about the fact that certain types of people* are better suited for certain jobs.   

       Politics is about schmoozing people and getting your way more often (or convincing other people your way is their way) than the other way around. In America {your way} ostensibly equals the desire of the majority.   

       I'll concede that the fastest runner isn't necessarily the best shuttle pilot, but I want to make that choice, not [darksasami]'s secret panels.   

       By the way "...we can't bring ourselves to empower someone who wants what the people want, instead of what politicians want?" is an incredibly naive statement. What, exactly, do the people want [darksasami]?   

       *people of a certain character, people with certain skills, people with certain backgrounds, people with certain educations, people with certain personalities, yadda yadda yadda. Please don’t infer race, religion or whatnot.
phoenix, Nov 03 2003
  

       I don't know what the people want, [phoenix]. Don't you think it would be a good idea to try having a fair election based on facts and ideas, instead of one based on advertising campaigns, mudslinging and rhetoric intended to discredit other candidates, and perhaps actually find out?
darksasami, Nov 04 2003
  

       >> the initial weeding process is there to eliminate people with massive screw-ups in their past. However, you won't know anyone's voting and speaking record, because in all likelihood you won't see any career politicians become candidates. <<   

       I would like to know not only about things that are illegal, or that are blatant conflicts of interest, but also things that I strongly oppose on political grounds.   

       Even candidates who aren't career politicians should have some accessible biographical information. Has this businessperson had a strong anti-union record? Did all of their companies go bankrupt due to financial mismanagement? Does this doctor perform abortions? Has this lawyer prosecuted death penalty cases? Has this author made racist statements? I would like to be able to access any media reports or public statements or votes made about or by each candidate.   

       I do like the aspects of the idea which involve more deliberative democracy, and more probing of skills and knowledge. Though some voters seem to distrust smart people on general principle.
beland, Nov 05 2003
  
      
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