OPINION COLUMNS

Hugely classy ideas for terrific elections

By Brian Knox | Published Saturday, February 27, 2016
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Donald Trump has inspired me.

Actually, I disagree with much of what he says, and even more so how he says it.

More specifically, it’s his slogan: Make America Great Again, that has sparked something in my overly politically assaulted brain.

I’m not sure at what point in time Trump would pinpoint as America’s maximum greatness, how far we’ve fallen from that greatest of greats and what he would do to recapture said greatness.

Brian Knox

Brian Knox

Frankly, I don’t really care because I think America is still pretty awesome overall.

But I would like to make something else great again: elections.

I can even make it easily hashtagable: #MEGA.

Make Electing Great Again.

A year ago, I wrote a column where I discussed some of the ways I’d like to see the November general election look more like the non-partisan May city and school elections.

I’d like to expand that to primary elections now as well.

I still stand behind most of the suggestions for the general election – including eliminating straight-ticket voting and eliminating party affiliation designation on the ballot to require people to research individual candidates instead of just blindly voting along party lines.

And I still think offering a “Voter Tax Credit” might encourage more people to take part in the democratic process. Although, after seeing the national interest in the recent Powerball lottery, maybe instead of everyone getting a little bit of money, everybody could be entered into a large jackpot drawing.

That may sound ludicrous, but, really, couldn’t you see a casino-owning candidate like Trump taking a gamble on that idea?

I also suggested making election day a federal holiday where most people could have all day to go vote without having to take time out of their work day. Judging from the number of Wise County voters who participated in early voting last Saturday (which drew the lowest daily total during the two-week period), I’m not so sure that suggestion would produce the desired results.

After enduring what seems like an endless presidential primary season, I’ve come up with a few more ideas that will hopefully #MEGA.

First, let’s make our campaign season look more like our British friends. In Great Britain, campaign finance laws restrict the length of campaigns to about a month and put a spending cap on each party.

In America, we’ve got elected officials who are spending more time campaigning than doing the jobs they were elected to do.

I’m not saying we should shorten it to only a month, but we’ve got presidential candidates who announced nearly a year ago, with another eight months to go before the general election.

We should limit it to three months.

Why should campaign season last longer than one of our four, God-created weather seasons?*

By stretching out the campaign season, candidates have plenty of time to tear down their opponents. Imagine what it would be like if we shortened the campaign season so we could lose most of that mudslinging and focus on issues instead.

Second, have one primary date for the entire country instead of dragging it out over several weeks. We all have the same general election day, don’t we?

Not only would that reduce the length of the campaign season, it would give every state a chance to have an equal say as to who becomes each party’s nominee.

Third, I like the suggestion from my friend and former editor Skip Nichols. Everyone voting in the presidential primary is required to choose one Republican, one Democrat and one independent. (And yes, I know currently you can’t vote in more than one party’s primary, but what if only this race was on both ballots?)

Perhaps that would encourage candidates to appeal to a larger segment of the electorate than only focusing on their “base.” It’s worth a try.

And if all else fails, maybe we should just scrap the whole system and have some type of animal pick the winners like they predict the Super Bowl winners every year. We could replace the primary with the Puppy Predictors.

How #MEGA classy would that be?

*Citation: The No. 1 best seller, the Bible, just ahead of “The Art of the Deal.”

Brian Knox is the Messenger’s special projects manager.

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