The Less Washington Is Like Hollywood, The Better Off We Are

For many people, the term “political” has a very negative connotation, as the closest link to our daily lives appears in the term “office politics”, which isn’t the primary definition of the word politics. Here is the full definition of politics from the Oxford dictionary:

1 [usually treated as singular] the activities associated with the governance of a country or area, especially the debate between parties having power:

  • the activities of governments concerning the political relations between states
  • the academic study of government and the state
  • a particular set of political beliefs or principles
  • (often the politics of) the principles relating to or inherent in a sphere or activity, especially when concerned with power and status

2 activities aimed at improving someone’s status or increasing power within an organization

The secondary definition seems to be what is the driving perception of the presidential election structure of the American political system. Think about how the entire campaign process focuses on improving the image of the candidates (or detracting from the image of your competitors), rather than proposing solid, viable solutions to the issues of the day. 

The recent debates were a perfect example of this: one candidate would say something, the other would reply with “that’s not true”, followed by a vaguely true (albeit, mostly incorrect statement), which the first candidate would respond with “that’s not true”… and the cycle continues. While some people love watching this kind of inane banter, I’d love to learn more about the candidates themselves – their motivations, their skills, their experiences, their intellect. The American public should see quantifiable comparisons between/among the candidates so that the can make an educated decision on the individuals themselves, rather than having the perception of the individuals molded by a team of “experts”. The political process as it exists is all a giant popularity contest with a massive budget used to finance localized smear campaigns.

In the age of the internet, why do candidates need to raise $750 million to promote themselves? If the second presidential debate was able to get a concurrent viewership of 65 million people, there seems to be a disconnect in the need for fund raising vs the usage of large-scale distribution channels. The candidates fundraising should be restricted just how there are rules for a vehicle in a NASCAR race: give each candidate a specific set of assets that they can rely on… $X amount of money, the use of a team of X amount of people, widely broadcast pre-organized visits for all candidates. This normalization would provide a single stage from which the candidates can deliver a uniform message (as opposed to a different message to every group they meet at each state they visit) as well as the opportunity for more qualified candidates to remain in the running.

In summary, I’d love to see politics be less of a popularity contest and more of a normalized meritocratic process with less special interest groups and less potential for influence from external factors (wealthy donors, Super PACs, political parties, special interest groups, and the like). I don’t want Kim Kardashian running for President, and neither should you.

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Richard Taveras

Engineer/product designer by training. Jack of all trades by experience. Lover of all things innovative.