The next presidential election is a year and a half away still and already more candidates than I can keep track of have entered the race. Does this make sense? As Unitarian Universalists, you’ll recall, we “covenant to affirm and promote . . . the use of the democratic process” (and that’s what my first career, as a lawyer, was all about). You’ll recall that the Constitution did not provide for the people to choose the president. Electors would do the job, electors who presumably would be men (women, too, today) of wisdom, good judgment, and commitment to the common good.
That system, while its structure was maintained, was quickly abandoned. I’m not proposing to bring it back, but here’s an idea to think about: A screening committee to consider the qualifications of prospective presidential candidates and rate their fitness for holding the office of president. They would consider not only the minimum requirements set forth in the Constitution but also physical and mental health, leadership experience and ability, crisis management skill, political experience, military experience, moral values, acceptance of science (evolution, global warming), tax returns and other financial records, freedom from foreign or donor control. The committee would not have the authority to veto a candidacy, but voters, I hope, would pay attention to their seal of approval.
While that proposal may be utopian (in the sense of unrealistic), we could switch to popular election, so that voters in Wyoming would not have many times the influence of voters in California, so that voters in swing states (like Pennsylvania) would not have greater influence than voters in states with an almost guaranteed outcome. We could adopt ranked voting, so that if there are three or more candidates, no candidate receives a majority, and your candidate finishes last, your vote is transferred to your second choice. And while we’re engaged in reform, let’s end voter suppression and end the disproportionate influence of those with lots of money.