Ten Modest Proposals

With the help of the Supreme Court’s Republican wing, Florida Governor Jeb Bush has finally managed to make his brother George President. We can all be relieved that Jeb has come through for us, and say a word of thanks to party loyalists from the bottom to the top. I don’t just mean Kate Harris. I mean you little guys who managed to stop the vote count over there in Palm Beach, too. Each and every one of you helped give our boy a hand up, and that’s the kind of teamwork that really holds our country together. We salute your efforts.

[Audience applause.]

However, I’d like to point out that had this election not involved many large and cumbersome piles of punch-cards that the media insist on calling “votes,” the process would have gone much more smoothly, quickly, and efficiently. In the spirit of election reform, then, I would like to propose ten alternative forms of government that do away with these bulky and unnecessary “votes.” By trimming some fat, we should be able to make our government leaner and meaner and free up more resources for the all-important job of ruling the people. It’s evident that the nation has become entirely too hip for democracy. Anyway; the folks I’m talking to seem pretty bored with it and I think we’re all ready for a change. I mean, “count every vote”? Please. That’s so ’96.

So, my alternatives to democracy, starting in 2001 and continuing for the next hundred or so Republican administrations (or until we get sick of being President, anyway), are:

10. Auctionocracy
Gregory Palast of the London Observer has already pointed out that massive campaign spending on TV ads and the like has resulted in the “efficient privatization of democracy.” He says that “an outright auction for the presidency would be more efficient still.” We say: we like the way the British think! And since you guys came up with the idea, we’ll be willing to give Lloyd’s of London a slice of the pie.

9. Amihotornocracy
For Tom Shales of the Washington Post, the most touching part of Al Gore’s concession speech came after the broadcast was over and he stepped down from the podium to embrace his family, including his teary-eyed, college-age daughters. Tom Shales was unable to resist calling Al’s daughters “attractive.” Well, Tom, we personally think that G.W.’s daughters are nothing to sneeze at, either, and we’ll go toe-to-toe anytime you want. Winner gets to be President.

8. Parodocracy
We simply appoint a bipartisan panel to watch several episodes of Saturday Night Live and determine which Presidential candidate instills the greater sense of legitimacy and trust while being imitated. That candidate wins! (Well, okay. Under certain circumstances the laws might actually call for the inauguration of the actor doing the imitating. But this is only necessary when the imitation is so good that no one can tell the difference anyway.)

7. I’llhavetheusualocracy
We personally believe that the current system gets the order all wrong. The way we see it, why not take the case to the Supreme Court first, before everybody hauls off campaigning willy-nilly? Under our plan, we check with the Justices beforehand and if they prefer a certain candidate, we’ll know and we won’t have to go do all that “election” stuff. After all, if you order the same thing every time, do you really need a menu? Besides, media camera crews won’t have to keep picking up all that equipment and moving it around all the time. It’s heavy. Why, just the other day I overheard a cameraperson — lugging gear from the White House to the Capitol building for what looked like the tenth time that day — grumble, “This checks and balances shit sucks.” We couldn’t agree more. Hell, we checked with G.W. and he’s never even heard of it. That’s why we like the idea of a system that starts and stops at the Supreme Court. It’s just easier to follow.

6. Staredownocracy
December 12th, December 18th, January 20th. Whatever. We can wait as long as you can.

5. Wecallshotgunocracy

4. Nascarocracy
We got so sick of moving the polling places hither and yon, we finally just put them up on wheels. Now that the election’s over, they’re gathering dust, when they could just as easily be souped up into badass racing machines. That way, the Presidency could be decided with a drag down Constitution Avenue. Since we thought of it, though, we get to pick who waves the flag. It’s only fair.

3. Worshipocracy
As a native Texan, I can tell you it’s no problem finding a stretch of road out there that’s all churches on both sides. So, on the agreed-upon day and time, we notify the news media and start worshipping! Whoever gets to the end of the block first, wins. There’s some fine print, though: if the cameras stop rolling, you have to start over. Without tv coverage, it’s just not a church service. Also, because these are Texas churches, anyone who wants to get elected President will have to be Baptist. We like this stipulation. It’s not just important that a President have religion. It’s important that he have the right one.

2. Stopocracy
On election night, two judges, one Republican and one Democratic, watch the ongoing results on the FOX Network. (Okay, yes, G.W.’s cousin pretty much runs the FOX Network, but it’s okay. We’ve explicitly told him not to touch anything.) Both judges get emergency vote count stay buzzers and if a judge thinks his candidate is ahead in the exit polls, he just hits the buzzer and it’s all over but the shouting. Not only does this settle things fair and square, it might stir up more public interest in the political process. People really seem to like their game shows.

1. Battleofthebandocracy
Over the past few years we’ve really seen an explosion in musicianship among our political figures. Bill Clinton plays a pretty mean sax, I’ve been told, and at the Al Gore blowout after his concession speech, we heard Tipper even held her own on the skins with Blues Traveler! Not so fast, though. We’ll have you know that our own Orrin Hatch is a self-described sometime country & western songwriter. The jam for the Presidency will naturally be conducted on TNN. And if Al and Tipper can’t take their home state, well…

Those are my suggestions. It doesn’t much matter which form of government we use. It’s just that democracy’s going into the “out” column on January 20th, so we really have to pick something, and fast. Since our particular form of government isn’t that important anyway, I say we let the people vote on it.

[Audience laughter.]

Ha ha. Yeah, that’s one of my favorites.