Next Time it will be Different

Tomorrow is election day in the U.S. While there are many other races at stake, I think it’s safe to say nearly every voter I know is sick of the entire presidential race. Rather than talk about change or maverick behavior, here’s my top five list of how next time it could be different.

1) Shorten the campaign season. For goodness sake, narrowing down the field during the primaries shouldn’t take so long. It seems like the Democrats started nearly two years ago. In addition to our sanity I’d like to ask a very simple question, what would your current employer do if you left you full-time job for nearly two years trying to get your next one? I assume all the candidates still draw a paycheck from the U.S. or Alaskan government while they are out job hunting. At a fundamental level this just seems wrong. And if they really have that much free time, maybe they’re getting paid too much in the first place.

2) Stop the hate. Few things have depressed me more this year than to endure the name calling and negative campaigning. Both candidates talked about change but whenever I turned on the TV I saw the same old thing. Name calling, ridiculing, misrepresentations of voting records – both camps are guilty of the offense. There was a moment in one of the debates when either candidate could have pledged to end the negativism but neither didn’t. If you believe in karma you have to agree neither candidate is going to have a smooth ride once they get into office.

3) Answers to questions. Speaking of the debates, perhaps we could just have candidates vote yes or no before they give their long winded questions to the moderators. Far too many times I got very irritated that neither Obama or McCain could not, or would not, answer a question. My favorite, “Given the $700B bailout plan, what programs will you cut given this reality?” Neither candidate gave a satisfactory answer in my book. Maybe I’ve been through too many media training sessions but all I saw was rehearsed talking points and rarely a straight answer.

4) Spending limits. It is absurd how much money is being spent to influence and get out the vote. And what’s terrifying, the fundraising numbers cannot match the incalculable number of volunteer hours contributed to the effort as well. If Google can become a worldwide brand with little to no advertising why on Earth do candidates, at nearly every level, spend gargantuan dollars to advertise themselves. With all the incredible innovation in social networking, social media and online connection we desperately need a version upgrade to the Candidate 2.0.

5) Outlaw yard signs. It occurred to me last week that eventually all those fancy yard signs are going to end up in a land fill. Oops. I hope candidates who supports green initiatives don’t print signs. I did the math, if all the signs were made of paper (not all are), nationwide we destroyed 180,000 trees for yard signs. So there is an environmental cost to the election as well. I won’t get into carbon emissions of travel, and on and on. My recommendation, if you’re running for federal office, ask your supporters to simply fly an American flag in their support. Not only is it patriotic, doesn’t destroy the Earth, but you can keep using it after your candidate wins or loses.

Bonus 6) Let it go. Practice acceptance and impermanence. I have to believe there will be voting day issues but please, let’s not see a repeat of 2004. And whomever loses, remember our government is designed to correct itself. The entire House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate will be back up for reelection in 24 months. Then just 24 months after that we’ll get to vote for President again. Given the length of our campaign season, the losers shouldn’t wait around too long to get started for the next time. Or, as evidenced by Mr. Gore, there is life after politics which can include spoils like Board seats and Noble prizes. Good for Mr. Gore.

Get out and vote.