The presidential campaign being in full swing almost a year and a-half out from the election got me thinking …

Did you know there isn’t a single thing in the Constitution about a popular vote for president? It’s true. Article 2, Section 1 of the Constitution clearly reads, “Each state shall appoint in such a manner as the legislature thereof may direct, a number of Electors, equal to the whole number of Senators and Representatives to which the state may be entitled in Congress.”

Those Electors are the ones who are supposed to choose the president.

So how did we end up with our current cluster mess?

I could give you the long, drawn-out historical explanation, but I prefer the more accurate, we started doing things a certain way, and the next thing we knew, we were doing it that way because we’d always done it that way, which is stupid, because look at it this way: If you’ve whacked your hand with a hammer every day for years, does the fact that you’ve been doing it for a long time make it right or sane?

The long and short is state legislatures created this because they had the Constitutional authority to do it, but that means they also have the Constitutional authority to change it. So, let’s get cracking, state legislatures. Let’s make this better.

How?

Well, for one thing, the process is too danged long. If it takes more than a year to get your point across, your point can’t be good. I say we do like other countries, where, by law election campaigns last months, not years. Politics should be tedious, not endless.

Also, there’s just WAY too much money involved. Nothing good can come from rich people and corporations forking over the kind of scratch to politicians American rich people and corporations do. The absolutely unacceptable accepted practice of allowing the rich to purchase the political process has to cease.

Look at it this way. All these presidential candidates raise millions of dollars to get a job whose compensation is a $400,000 a year base salary, with a $50,000 a year expense allowance, a $100,000 a year non-taxable travel account, and a $19,000 a year entertainment account. They’re spending tens of millions to get a job whose compensation is $569,000 a year. Isn’t that kind of like begging rich people for money so you can buy a tailored tuxedo and a Ferrari to make a good impression at your job interview at a fast-food place? (And tell me the people who forked over that kind of scratch ain’t gonna want free fries and ice cream should you get the job.) More than that, though, if politicians are spending tens of millions to get jobs that pay thousands, is it any wonder we’re trillions in debt?

I say presidential candidates (and all other candidates, for that matter), should only be allowed to spend as much money on their campaigns as they’ll make in one year if they get elected. This way, they’ll actually have to display that fiscal responsibility they’re so fond of blathering on and on about. Plus, maybe limiting how much they can spend on advertising will force them to be more substantive in their ads than, “vote for me because my opponent stinks.”

Also, each candidate should have to submit, in writing, an explanation of precisely why he or she wants this epitome of a stink job, and a certificate from a mental health professional, stating the candidate in question hasn’t completely lost their mind.

Or if all that’s too complicated, we could just have the candidates for each party’s nomination rassle in a great big vat full of oil, or pudding, or Jell-O or just about any non-disgusting, non-sewage substance; and then have the two party’s winners engage in 15 rounds of a good ol’ fashioned school-girl slap fight.

Remember, the Constitution clearly says each state’s legislature can select Presidential Electors however they see fit. The way we’ve been doing this obviously doesn’t work. So get cracking, state legislatures!

Craig Carter is an Ontario resident and can be reached in care of The Argus Observer, 1160 S.W. Fourth St., Ontario, OR 97914. The views and opinions expressed in this column do not necessarily represent those of the Argus Observer.

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