Stafford: Let’s make a game of what’s dividing Americans

Had enough politics?

Joe Biden will be sworn in as president Jan. 20. Our system, or at least the casting and counting of votes, worked. Everything before that, not so much.

I think most of us can agree our political system is broken, corrupt, plays to our worst rather than best instincts, and is just plain crazy-making.

We just spent an insane amount of time, money and pointlessly wasted emotion — far more than any nation would in its wildest nightmares — picking who will quibble for the next little bit at the margins of the meaningful. Endless loops of venom and invective radiated from our screens for months, promoting political paralysis and wanton stupification.

If your kids behaved like the people behind some of these attack ads, or in some cases the candidates themselves — bullying and calling others names — you’d put them in time out or worse.

When I was an incorrigible youngster revolting at some unpleasant chore, dear old mom always encouraged me to “make a game of it.” Now that I’m an incorrigible oldster, I think mom’s advice could be applied to the unpleasant chore of choosing our national leaders. Let’s make a game of it!

Here’s a modest proposal for electing our next batch of leaders. I think we have enough time to pull this off, and I’m absolutely certain we can find sponsors and patrons.

1. On New Year’s Eve 2023, Steve Harvey will host “New Year’s Big Game!” This unprecedented extravaganza will randomly select Americans to run for United States House, Senate and president. Vanna White will select names of eligible Americans from giant hoppers until we have all the candidates we need. Americans from Abilene to Zephyrhills will tune in to see whether they or their friends and neighbors will be a candidate for high office. Imagine the ratings!

2. Over the months that follow, we’ll get to know our candidates as they are hounded by reality TV crews for nightly regional and national editions of “That’s My Candidate!” Candidates will be nominally compensated for their participation. We’ll hear all about their plans for health care, their views on the nuclear triad, their governing styles and more. Naturally, we’ll also learn far more than we would ever want to know about the intimate details of their personal lives.

3. The candidates may campaign as they see fit, but they must agree to participate in a series of one-on-one talk show interviews coordinated by a rotating panel of Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil and Judge Judy or their acolytes. Interviews may or may not have surprise guests. At some point in this process, tribes or “cabals” will naturally form among candidates — and voters. Imagine the intrigue!

4. Debates will be moderated by high school students randomly chosen in a format similar to that described in Step 1 above. During each debate, candidates will be fitted with electronic neck collars that administer shocks in increasing doses of voltage anytime they interrupt their fellow candidate. Any candidate electrocuted is deemed disqualified.

5. “Election Week — The Big Payoff,” hosted by Steve Harvey, will premiere Halloween night, Oct. 31, and run nightly through Election Night, Nov. 5, 2024. Cabals each night will make their “final offers” as they “bid” for the support of blocs of voters. Imagine the thrills!

I’m sure there are a few rough spots and minor details to work out. But after living through the last several elections, I’m game for wholesale change. How about you?•

Dave Stafford[email protected] — is editor of Indiana Lawyer. Opinions expressed are those of the author.

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