19 April 2006

Let's Idolize the American Presidential Vote

The ratings and cultural juggernaut, American Idol, is in the final weeks of its fifth year. This season my top three are Chris Daughtry, Catherine McPhee, and the brilliant Taylor Hicks. I'm sure you've got a top three. And that's the point… everyone is watching and everyone is voting.

Each year the Idol audience grows and each year more people vote for the winner of American Idol than vote for the President of the United States of America. It's reported that an average of 31 million Americans are tuning in and voting for talented unknowns to reach uncharted celebrity in an updated version of shows like Star Search, Ted Mack's Original Amateur Hour, Showtime at the Apollo, Nashville Star, Minutes to Fame, Superstar USA, Fame, You're A Star, Rock Star: INXS (soon to be Rock Star: Super Group), etc. Americans obviously can't get enough of watching wannabe's reach the top.

In the complete 2005 season of American Idol just over 500 million votes were cast. In 2004 the American Presidential election garnered a paltry 122 million votes, 20 full percentage points behind the Afghanistan presidential election that same year. Compare that with Afghanistan's 96 per cent voter turnout.

Whatever shows are thrown up by competing channels against American Idol are churned over and tossed away in the rush to watch the wannabe celebrities. The American public is now in a glow of participatory democracy, at least as far as American Idol goes. Why not bring the same dream of full participation to the Presidential election?

It would be so easy to do. No worrying about Deibold voting machines, no paper ballots, no wasting gas on driving to ones polling place, no worries about non-drivers making it to their polling place, no lines, no anger…no muss, no fuss.

Each registered voter could simply register their phone number, and that one number would be allowed to vote only once or twice, etc. depending on the number of regsitered voters at that address, thus eliminating the redial issue that American Idol encourages. Voting would be open for a predetermined period of time to allow everyone to cast their vote. Since votes would be tied to a pre-registered phone number everyone would have an equal chance to cast their vote.

This is such a good idea, in fact, that the entire presidential election could be modeled after Idol. There could be a panel of Senators to select the top 50 men and women to run for American Idol President. Each week the public could narrow that number down after watching the candidates compete in public debates on such topics as Public Policy, Race Relations, The Economy, The Clash of Civilizations, The American Army, Nuclear Arms, The Middle east, Global Warming, Extreme Weather, Eurabia, , New Orleans Recovery, etc. If we "Idolize" election we can also eliminate those pesky, opportunistic lobbyists like Jack Abramoff thus eliminating a huge source of fraud and waste of everyones dollars.

I can only see an upside here. Are you with me?

It's participatory democracy in action.

I say let's Idolize the American voting process!


If you're so inclined you can download all the 2006 American Idol contestant songs as MP3's from the Idol Forums.


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