We are deep in the main season of one of my favorite spectator sports: Elections!! I don't know about you but at about this time in this combination reality show, soap opera, wrestling match, and beauty pageant I am left with a nagging question. Is this the best we can do?
Most voters value their independent spirit. They proudly proclaim they vote for the man, not the party. In far too many cases, though, there is really little choice. If only one candidate files, they automatically win. In many other cases the choice is hold your nose and vote for the candidate you hope will mess things up the least. I think one of the reasons we have such poor voter turn out is that many people feel they need a shower immediately after they vote. Voters are proud that they voted, but not often proud of who they had to vote for.
There is an answer to this problem. The perfect candidate: None Of The Above! In every election for a public office NOTA should be an explicit choice. Even if only one person files for that office, he should have to campaign against NOTA. If you don't care who wins, you can still leave the ballot blank in that area, but if you think that none of the candidates should win, vote NOTA. If NOTA wins, then a new election is held with a whole new set of candidates. Just think about it.
How many times in the last few elections have we had office holders that were never voted on because no one else ran. Aren't there a few you would have liked to vote against, where you think it would have been better if the office was vacant for a while instead of having them there. Wouldn't it be great if the candidates had to show that not only were they better than their opponent, they were better than nobody? Shouldn't every single candidate for an office have to show that he was better than NOTA?
I think that if we tried this, and voters could actually say "wait a minute, lets try this again with some real candidates", voter participation would sky rocket.
I doubt this will happen. For all their problems, those in power are realists in this area of politics. I am sure that many of them, especially those running for national office realize they couldn't win against NOTA, the perfect candidate.