The Crazy, Unnecessary, and Generally Abusive Process of Picking an American President

Matt Tiabbi, writing at The Rolling Stone, reflects on the crazy way in which Americans choose their president.  Here is a taste:

What we Americans go through to pick a president is not only crazy and unnecessary but genuinely abusive. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent in a craven, cynical effort to stir up hatred and anger on both sides. A decision that in reality takes one or two days of careful research to make is somehow stretched out into a process that involves two years of relentless, suffocating mind-warfare, an onslaught of toxic media messaging directed at liberals, conservatives and everyone in between that by Election Day makes every dinner conversation dangerous and literally divides families.

After making some suggestions for how to improve the process, Tiabbi concludes:

If we did this right, people would come out of presidential elections exhilarated, maybe even stoked to get involved in their local races for county sheriff or D.A. (Such races would likely have more of an impact on their day-to-day lives: For the most part, when it comes to our daily routines, the president might as well be on Mars.) Instead, most of us come out of the election exhausted, in desperate need of a couple of Ambiens and determined to spend the next two years buried in Hulu reruns, afraid to even pass a news channel while couch-surfing our way to Storage Wars or a Lifetime movie.

What makes us feel pessimistic about the world, ultimately, is the way the media encourage us to believe that our fate hangs on the every move of the promise-breaking, terminally disappointing Teflon liars in Washington. And that’s a shame, because feeling optimistic shouldn’t require turning off the TV or tuning out The Process. What we are witnessing, after all, is the world’s greatest contest for power, an amazing fairy tale full of iconic moments that we’ll watch no matter how much Sean Hannity or Chris Matthews screams at us. But it would be awesome, next time, if we could find a way to turn down the volume.

One thought on “The Crazy, Unnecessary, and Generally Abusive Process of Picking an American President

  1. Unfortunately, Taibbi's solution still favors–arguably even entrenches–the two-party system. I would propose that getting rid of winner take all elections would actually go a long way toward making electoral politics less distasteful.


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