How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

Mission Possible: How You Can Start and Operate a Soup Kitchen

How to fix our broken election process

The 2016 Presidential campaign was an absolute disaster.  The majority of the American people did not like or, for that matter, trust either of the major party's presidential candidates.  Only 31% of the electorate trusted Hillary and only 24% trusted Trump.  The primary process is under the control of the political parties and they are the only ones who can make changes. 

For their own good and the good of the nation, they should make changes. The Republican primary process is too open.  It produced too many candidates. Developing and equitable weeding-out process is difficult.  You don't want to be arbitrary or capricious and weed someone out before they had a chance to develop their root system and get their candidate's feet under them, but at the same time seventeen candidates are too many and leave the party open to hostile takeovers.

The Democrats process tends to be too closed.  They need to review the process and revisit the number of super delegates, composed primarily of party insiders.  They also need to look at the party structure and take steps to insure that the party professionals do not favor one candidate over another, during the primary.  They should not be currying favor with the front-runner.  What Debbie Wasserman Shultz did was absolutely wrong and should not happen again.  Bernie's supporters should be livid.

As far as the general election is concerned, we really need to do something dramatically different with regard to our presidential debates. Colbert King of the Washington Post was spot on when she wrote that the debates were "ugly and disgusting."

I got a radical new idea from the October 17 Point After column in Sports Illustrated.  Michael Rosenberg wrote, "Every day of the 2016 election makes me want to push the fast-forward button."  He pointed out that sports fans "are the original fact-checkers" and that instant reply came about because of fans clamoring about bad calls.  "Imagine Clinton throwing a red flag at a debate, sending somebody to a booth to check on what Trump just said.  After further review, the statement in hall is overturned."

I think that Rosenberg is on to something.  A recent 60 Minute Show did a profile on Watson - IBM's new brilliant question answering computing system.  I suggest that we employ Watson in future presidential debates to instantly check the veracity of our presidential candidates. 

Here's how it would work.  Each candidate would get up to five challenges of his opponent's facts.  Each time their challenge was correct, according to Watson's fact-checking, they would get one point.  If the challenge was incorrect they would lose one of their five allowable challenges.  The candidate with the most points at the end of the debate could rightfully claim that their opponent was a bigger liar than they were during the debate.  While one might argue that this is ridiculous, I'd argue it is probably better than the system that is currently in place.

Here is my real suggestion for improving the debate process.  Under the auspicious of the Commission on Presidential Debates, I'd establish a blue-ribbon team of policy experts who would be charged with developing a series of specific domestic and foreign affairs questions for each presidential debate.  It would be very important that the experts came from both the left and the right. These folks need to be the best, brightest and fairest.  The goal would be to produce a set of questions relating to the key issues our next President would face.  

The questions would be widely publicized to the public and the candidates five days in advance of each debate.  I'd suggest that the policy wonks develop considerably more questions than the 10-12 that would be asked during the debate.  I'd recommend that the questions asked on the air be selected on the air in a manner akin to way lottery numbers are picked to avoid charges of favoritism.   Let's have Yolannnn daVegaaaa, the New York Lottery queen, announce the winning question.  

Each candidate would be asked a previous circulated question and be given five minutes to answer.  His or her opponent would get a minute to raise questions or concerns regarding the candidates answer.  To maximize the exposure for these debates I'd suggest that the debate be broadcast simultaneous on all major television, cable and radio stations in the United States and that stations be compensated by the federal government at some sort of reduced rate (this is a rip-off of an idea that The Twentieth Century Fund Commission of Campaign Costs in the Electronic Era made back in 1969).  I'm hoping that providing this kind of extensive nationwide coverage, at no cost the candidates, might reduce somewhat the burden on them to have to raise so much outside funds.

In an ideal world I'd love to get all big money out of Presidential politics, by prohibiting candidates from soliciting and receiving exorbitant contributions from any special interest and require super PACs to follow the same contribution limits as other political committees, but that's not going to happen.  Big money controls and corrupts our politics.