While down with the flu this weekend I had the rare treat of being awakened out of a feverish sleep by phone call after phone call only to discover that it was not my wife checking in from her business trip, or my in-laws calling with an emergency or any of our neighbors reporting errant livestock. Instead, it was some damnable recorded voice droning on (and on and on) in behalf of one or the other of the rival candidates in the particularly nasty race for the Senate here in Virginia. It does you no good to scream at a robot, but I tried anyhow, croaking from my sickbed as I slammed the receiver down. And don't even get me started on the omnipresent t.v. ads. The professionals who run these campaigns must truly believe the voting populace consists of idiots who can be swayed by nothing more than a breathless voiceover magnifying the real or imagined sins of the rival candidate. I actually began this election cycle with a certain measure of respect for both George Allen and James Webb, which has declined steadily as their staff and supporters have done what they think is necessary to win my vote. Their thinking is, to say the least, flawed. While it may be unjust to judge the man by his minions, if their campaign staffs are a measure of the candidates' character, I no longer trust either of them to be my Senator. In fact, I am not sure I would trust either of them to be the guy who pushes my trash down with a pole at our local dump station before pushing the big red button on the compactor. Nonetheless, at some point tomorrow I will stand up in a polling place and be faced with the choice between one of the two. This leads me to introduce my own idea for election reform; Vote None of the Above.
I propose a law that would require that in any race there be an additional option to vote for "None of the Above" positioned immediately after the candidates' names. If "None of the Above" leads by a plurality of the vote at the conclusion of the election, then a new election would be held within a reasonable time to allow the parties to reconsider their choices. The parties could, if they were so inclined, re-nominate the same candidates and independents would be allowed to run again. If however "None of the Above" wins an absolute majority, none of the previous candidates would be allowed on the new ballot.
It could be argued that this crackpot proposal would potentially delay the filling of public office and throw our system of government in disarray. Well, as they say in the computer world, that's not a bug, it's a feature. Vote None of the Above!