It’s like a train wreck. Fascinating, repellant, and loud, all at the same time. Talking about the American presidential sweepstakes. And, as ratings for the last few debates seem to indicate, very hard to look away. It was Winston Churchill who called our election process, “a circus wrapped in a game show covered in poisonous weasel glitter.” And if he didn’t, he should have.
Look at how we treat these poor people. Gang debates. Smug interrogators. Partisan witch hunts. Hostile examinations. Substandard lecterns. Marathon fund-raisers with cold congealed Swedish meatballs in a watery mustard sauce.
What we end up with is scarred, dehydrated, emotional wrecks confused by simple math and their shoes. And that’s another question: Who would want this job? What kind of crazy masochistic flippo-unit voluntarily undertakes this mission of barbarous self- flagellation? Not just jumping into the flaming crucible of brutish internecine combat, but dragging their families along with them? You would not be far off concluding that anybody who can be elected president, shouldn’t be.
Even the serious candidates quickly turn into bewildered patsies sentenced to months of trudging through Iowa and New Hampshire mud. Constantly dodging teams of opposition researchers looking for anything resembling dirt. And forced to eat gas station sushi.
There has got to be a better way to pick the leader of the free world. The system we have now is much too long, totally fractious, unseemly, indecorous, vicious and unbecoming. Put those all together and what do you get: Television.
If we’re going to run this like a reality show, let’s run it like a reality show. We already got them jumping through hoops, all we need are enough cameras to capture the action. It’s an award-winning, mini-series waiting for the right producer.
Auction off the rights to the highest bidding network and let them fold it into one of their signature franchises. “America’s Next Top Politician.” “Dancing With the Office- Seekers.” “Keeping up with the Roosevelts.” “So You Think You Can Negotiate with Putin?” “Hell’s Campaign Trail.” “America’s Got BS.” The Real Hypocrites of Washington D.C.” “Project Inauguration.” Just insert some loophole that keeps CNBC out of the running.
“Apprentice” morphed into “Celebrity Apprentice,” why not “Presidential Apprentice?” Let Donald Trump experience the joy of being fired from both ends. CBS could transform their hour each week to “The Amazing Race: Oval Office.” Only a few disgruntled campaign managers would quibble with calling it “The Biggest Loser.”
Many shows wouldn’t need any alteration. “Big Brother” sort of already tangentially fits. As does “The Real World,” in a vague ironic sense. “Shark Tank,” definitely. “American Idol,” yeah, right, dream on. “The Voice,” or more aptly, “The Lack of Voice.”
With the show’s emphasis on backstabbing and blindsiding, “Survivor: Foggy Bottom” is almost a perfect fit. We could even mimic the format and offer clues to help contestants find hidden immunity idols. “Congratulations. You may skip Nevada and South Carolina and go straight to Super Tuesday.”
A number of reality show conventions could be adopted and/ or adapted. The weekly weigh in when they strip down to their undies would immediately trigger Must See TV. And finally, forget the hand on the Bible, on January 21, 2017, Chief Justice Roberts offers up to the incoming president... one single red rose.
Will Durst is an award- winning, nationally acclaimed columnist and comedian