Nobody really loves Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. Okay, a bit of an overstatement, but both candidates have incredibly high unpopularity ratings. 59 percent of voters view Clinton unfavorably, compared to the 60 percent of voters who view Trump unfavorably.
Can you imagine narrowing down your candidates for a job to two people that the majority of people on the hiring committee don't like? You wouldn't, of course. You'd go for a new round of candidates. So, how did we end up with presidential candidates that are viewed so unfavorably? Well, we kind of suck at this interviewing process.
Yes, an election is basically a very, very, long job interview. Who are the hiring managers? We are. Every single American citizen who is eligible to vote. Let's go through what our lousy process has brought us.
We Require Candidates to Have Skills That Aren't Necessary for the Job.
Do you know what political candidates need to be really good at? Raising funds. Yep. You've got to be able to get people to part with their hard earned cash in support of you. This is not a skill that is needed in the job. Sure, you can argue that these persuasive skills are great for getting bills pushed through Congress, but the huge focus on money ensures that we can only have candidates who either independently wealthy or are excellent fundraisers. Talk about focusing on the wrong skills.
We Say We Want Independent Candidates, but Force Them Into Dependent Relationships.
We don't want our president to be beholden to special interests, but again, in order to win, you have to get money from the special interests, and therefore, you end up in debt to them. We can fool ourselves into thinking that doesn't play a role, but if it didn't play a role, people wouldn't donate. So, regardless of political parties, each candidate is dependent on donors. Which makes them susceptible to outside pressure.
We Make the Interview Process Way too Long.
Who in their right mind would subject themselves to well over a years' worth of job interviewing? No one, would. Which kind of explains why we get the candidates that we get. Most people don't want to spend this long trying to get a job and will never even apply for the position. Guaranteed, there are people out there who would make a fabulous president who never even think about running because the process stinks.
We Give Too Much Power to the Headhunters.
Theoretically, anyone who meets the Constitutional Requirements can run. As we learned through the DNC email leak, the party leadership (i.e. political headhunters) have tremendous power over who ends up on the ballot. This year, the DNC exercised its power to anoint Hillary Clinton, while the RNC got forced into accepting Donald Trump, so it seemed the RNC lost power. But note what happened after Trump got the nomination--even Ted Cruz grudgingly gave him support. Why? Does Cruz now think Trump is the most awesome thing since sliced bread? No, or course not. Cruz knows that to win, in the future, he needs the RNC's support, so support Trump he will.
We Don't Listen to All the Candidates.
Did you know that Trump and Clinton aren't the only ones running? Gary Johnson is the Libertarian Party Candidate, and Jill Stein is the Green Party Candidate. You've probably heard of them. But, what about Darrell Castle (Constitution Party), Evan McMullin (Conservative Independent Party), and a whole bunch of other people who running as independents? Why aren't we interviewing them? And by interviewing, I mean allowing them to participate in the presidential debates. 52 percent of people want Johnson to participate and 47 percent want Stein on the stage. If half of your hiring committee wanted to interview a particular candidate, you'd interview that person, right? Of course, right. But, in the election, we allow a committee run by the headhunters for Clinton and Trump to determine who can debate. That is a huge hiring fail.
We Focus on Things Like College Grades.
Sure, if you're hiring an intern, you want to see his or her grades because interns don't have any (or very little) real world experience. Why do we care about a presidential candidate's grades? Or papers they wrote in college? As a political science major, myself, I'm sure I wrote papers in college that would make me cringe now. As a creative writing minor, I'm sure I wrote short stories that would make everyone else cringe. Does it matter now that I'm in the middle of my career? Of course not. Why do we care what presidential candidates said and did when they were young?
How Do We Fix This Mess?
Vote for me! Just kidding. I'd rather stick pins in my eyes than be the President. It's a highly stressful job that requires frequent life and death decisions and impacts the entire world. I'm not interested.
But, we can shorten the election cycle. We can demand that Stein and Johnson be included in a public debate. We can refuse to be bound to the two major parties--let them work to win our votes rather than just assuming we'll always take their sides. We can require presidential candidates to wear the corporate logos of their sponsors, like NASCAR drivers, drivers, so we know who they are beholden to. Okay, maybe the last one won't fly, but we are the hiring managers here. Let's act like it.