Electoral process needs a makeover

The election of 2016 is history. The winners are planning to assume power in January. The losers are licking their wounds and wondering what they could have done differently. But what about the rest of us?

I don’t know about you, but the election of 2016 has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. This foul flavor has nothing to do with who won or who lost and everything to do with what’s become of the American electoral process.

For the second time in 16 years the presidential candidate who garnered the most votes lost the election. The Electoral College might have made sense in the late 18th century but not anymore. Everyone’s vote should carry the same weight.

And, as a friend suggested to me, wouldn’t turnout be much higher if voters knew that their vote would count no matter where they live? One can’t help but wonder how many Republican voters in Massachusetts and Democrats in Indiana (and Bartholomew County) stay home on Election Day because they know their state is either so blue or so red that their individual vote won’t matter?

I think we should elect our president the same way we elect our senators, representatives, governors and mayors: the candidate who receives the most votes wins.

Yes, I know the Electoral College likely isn’t going anywhere. But something that can, and must, change is the way candidates conduct their campaigns.

If you’re like me, you started hitting the mute button on political TV commercials back in September. Thanks to the billions of dollars spent by Super PACs on TV ads, we were bombarded with campaign commercials.

It was nearly impossible to even get through the evening news without smashing the TV.

Not only were there way too many such commercials (though I’m sure the TV stations’ accountants would disagree), there were way too many negative ads. Most of the ads I saw had very little to say about what Candidate A planned to do if elected. Instead, Candidate A spent most of his time and money telling me what a criminal sleaze ball Candidate B is.

If I were to believe all these negative ads, I would conclude that the only people who ran for office in 2016 were folks who have committed at least one crime and probably more, bilked taxpayers out of millions, served as a lobbyist for America Must Go Inc. and accepted donations from Satan himself.

What really got me down was when I realized that I was starting to believe all these ads. But can you really blame me?

Our president-elect has a history of shady business deals and countless lawsuits. He goes to court this month, accused of fraud. The losing candidate has been under investigation of one kind or another for many years with no apparent end in sight.

And it isn’t just the presidential candidates. It seems as if nearly all of our congressional and gubernatorial candidates have a skeleton or three in their closets.

I fear we have reached the point where our political process has become so disgusting that the best people among us want nothing to do with it. So we end up with too many candidates who will say, do and spend whatever it takes to win an office, and then to hold on to it.

Most polls indicated that this year’s election featured the two most unpopular presidential candidates in recent history. I heard more than one person during the last few months ask, “Out of 300 million people these are the best we could come up with?”

Unless we decide to change the process, I’m afraid they just might be.