Last Monday evening, while more than a hundred million American masochists gathered gloomily around their flat-screens and “devices,” for no better reason than to confirm just how deeply our country’s moral compass has spun out of control, Tonya and I sought refuge in a darkly-lit jazz bar called The Green Lady Lounge. To our surprise, the place was packed with other kindred spirits who, like us…just couldn’t take it anymore.
Instead of suffering through the most widely watched Presidential Debate in human history, instead of enduring 90 minutes of Blithering Donald and Shrill Hill, we were soothed by the melodic strains of esteemed vocalist Ms. Molly Hammer (Joe Cartwright on keyboard) and for a while, we almost forgot that our country is a train wreck in search of a broken rail. Illusion is good.
Like so many untold millions, I don’t have the energy or inclination to articulate all the ways I loathe these two candidates. But one writer nailed it so well a few weeks ago that I thought I’d let him speak on our behalf. In an essay called, “The existential despair of Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump,” the brilliantly acerbic Michael Brendan Dougherty wrote:
You know that Donald Trump is an unstable imbecile. But this knowledge doesn’t oblige you to discover new qualities in the bottomlessly cynical, power-mad grifter Hillary Clinton. In your heart of hearts, you may suspect that if she thought it would get her four centimeters closer to the presidency, Hillary Clinton would devour your squealing grandchild, or her own, live on the set of The View. It’s a terror to contemplate. But in no way should this terror obviate your equally credible suspicion that Donald Trump is rabies in human form, likely to drive our country into a feverish search for scraps in the neighbors’ garbage only to get us run over by a truck.
What else needs to be said?
But what to do? In recent memory, there’s never been a more pronounced ‘lesser of two evils’ election than this. Do we vote or slash our wrists? Do we hold our noses and vote for Clinton? Or Trump? Or do we supposedly turn to our inner consciences and throw our support to one of the extraordinarily unmemorable Third Party candidates? None of these options makes me feel less nauseated.
And finally, more than any of these dismal choices, we long to embrace the option we dream of more than any other…
“None of the Above!”
Yes…PLEASE. Wouldn’t that be glorious…?
It would be. And why not? As long as we’re trapped in a hopeless quagmire of despair, let’s hopelessly dream of “things that never were…and say ‘why not?'” Let’s make “None of the Above” a real option in U.S. Presidential elections. Let’s change the Constitution.
The procedure for electing a president was first delineated in Article II, Section 1, Clause 3 of the U.S. Constitution. The 12th Amendment, passed in 1803, made certain changes in the election protocol. It says, in part:
“The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President…and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as President, and all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate.
“…The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed…”
The catch here is that we’re all required to vote for “persons.” As a long ago spiritual advisor once observed, “Bummer.” But by ratification of a 28th Amendment (we have 27 so far), we could fix this. Here’s how it would work…
First, I can only deal with one electoral obscenity at a time. We’ll have to save Citizens United and the Power of the 1%, the dark force that drives all contemporary election campaigns, for another rant. For now, imagine the next campaign is similar to this one—with idiotic, or deceitful, or evil, or just bland candidates as choices…you know, like now…and with non-stop, 24/7 news coverage, and back-to-back-to-back-to-back-to-back advertising. Like now. A campaign that is almost inescapable (unless you go to The Green Lady).
The difference between now and some future modified election is that we’d still be able to muster Hope. We’d be able to devote our full confidence, passion and support for absolutely nobody and make it our collective quantitative choice. We’d vote specifically for nobody and be confident that our ballots could make all the difference. Imagine 50 million Americans all standing united behind the same nobody.
So…it’s Election Night USA, November 3, 2020. The two major nominees, Freda Farquardt and Nemo Glitz anxiously await exit polls and the raw returns. At CNN headquarters in Atlanta, Wolf Blitzer announces the latest results:
“We’ve just received some new numbers. And stand by for a real shocker. As it stands now, Senator Freda Farquardt holds a 3% lead over her opponent, Governor Glitz, but as we’ve been reporting all night, the big winner continues to be ‘None of the Above.’ Farquardt has received 31% of the popular vote, Glitz is at 28%, and a whopping 40% of the voters chose nobody. Absolutely stunning. And in the electoral college, neither of the candidates has come close to the magic 270 threshold. ‘None of the Above’ leads in that category as well, with 223.
“Clearly the ratification of the 28th Amendment last October has radically changed the electoral process. This is truly unprecedented. And just as clearly, the electoral protocol established by 28 will now be set in motion.”
The 28th Amendment protocol would work like this:
Prior to the election, all political parties participating in the election would have selected a ’28th Amendment Board of Selectors.’ If the 28th is invoked, the Boards of the top two vote getters would convene within five days to select a new slate of candidates. They have the option of choosing anyone to represent their party EXCEPT the current nominee, as long as they meet the requirements as established in Article II of the Constitution. New candidates must be announced within 14 days of the November election.
Upon selection, a 45 day election campaign would be initiated. ALL political advertising would be banned (haven’t the voters suffered enough already?). The campaigns would, in effect, be conducted via public appearances, Cspan, and six televised debates. Campaign surrogates would be prohbited from offering opinions. Spin doctors would be shot on sight.
Finally, on Day 45, Americans would go to the polls again. And this time it’s for keeps. “None of the Above” would not be an option this round (or else the process might go on forever). The outcome would be based on the straight national popular vote. No Electoral College. So choose your candidates wisely.
The winner would be designated President-elect. Inauguration Day would be moved back one week, to
January 27, to provide a bit more time for the transition. And then everything would be better.
Or not. Who am I kidding?
At the end of the day, I know proposals like this will go nowhere, because it would require the support of the very same powerful few who helped create this intolerable situation. Ed Abbey once proclaimed, “What our perishing republic needs is something different. Something entirely different.” And we know he’s right. But what can we do? And how?
Ultimately, I’ve known for a long time that our world can’t be simply fixed via elections or ordinances or pieces of legislation, or proclamations. One day, I came across this quotation, by the late Charles Bowden…
“Imagine the problem is not physical. Imagine the problem has never been physical, that it is not biodiversity, it is not the ozone layer, it is not the greenhouse effect, the whales, the old-growth forests, the loss of jobs, the crack in the ghetto, the abortions, the tongue in the mouth, the diseases talking everywhere as love goes on unconcerned. Imagine the problem is not some syndrome of our society that can be solved by commissions or laws or redistribution of what we call wealth. Imagine that it goes deeper, right to the core of what we call our civilization and that no one outside of ourselves can effect real change, that our civilization, our government are sick and that we are mentally ill and spiritually dead – that all our issues and crises are symptoms of this deeper sickness.”
Bowden’s right… It goes far deeper than any of us are willing to admit. And there’s the rub.
Jim Stiles is Founder and Co-Publisher of the Canyon Country Zephyr.
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