This Is Smart

     “Running for the presidency’s not an IQ test.”
     And neither, as far as I can tell, is running for anything else.
     The quote, in case you missed it or have an IQ too low to remember things, is from Texas Governor Rick Perry in an interview with NBC News.
     My immediate reaction upon hearing this was: “OK, but why isn’t it?”
     Shouldn’t the smartest person in the country be the president?
     Think about it.
     We know dictatorships don’t work (at least not for people who aren’t the dictator).
     We know democracies lead to all sorts of chaos and idiots in office (see: U. S. Congress).
     And we certainly don’t want some old lady with a crown and small dogs running things.
     The obvious alternative is a meritocracy. Why not let people who actually know something about science deal with energy and the environment? Why not let people who know there are different kinds of Muslims run foreign policy?
     Why not get things done properly?
     Yeah, yeah, it’s not in the Constitution and it’s not democratic, but were the Founding Fathers rocket scientists? (The answer is no because there were no such things as rockets back then. The best they could have been was musket scientists.)
     I should note here that the qualifications problem isn’t limited to people elected in government. The people whom elected people appoint to work in the government seem to have some qualifications issues too. Remember “Good job, Brownie?”
     Or, to be nonpartisan, there’s this from a news story last week about a nominee to be ambassador to Norway: “In his hearing, Tsunis referred to Norway’s president, though the country doesn’t have one. He described the mainstream Progress Party as composed of fringe voters who ‘spew their hatred.'”
     Cluelessness knows no party affiliation.
     But there are obviously some drawbacks to replacing elections and appointments with a merit system. How, for example, do you tell who the smartest person is? And what if the smartest person is evil? They don’t all stroke cats, so you don’t know who the evil geniuses are.
     The solution is something that we can all enjoy and relate to: a televised reality competition.
     Step one is soliciting applications for the office that needs filling. Step two is eliminating everyone who applies.
     Generally speaking, anyone who wants to be elected is someone who shouldn’t have the job.
     Next, the country must be scoured for candidates who have shown their aptitude for the position, either by running a successful business, doing good works, or organizing a Thanksgiving dinner without anyone complaining.
     Candidates would compete each week in a series of governing tasks -negotiating a climate treaty, winning a war, proclaiming a state bird – with each week’s worst performers eliminated. All candidates who lose wars or inadvertently create a Superfund site would be automatically disqualified.
     You test candidate non-evilness with a series of subtle observations – does he or she help the old lady cross the street? How does he or she respond to freeway traffic? Does he or she get jokes?
     The winner would serve until the conclusion of the next season’s series. You don’t want anyone getting too comfortable in the job.
     The televised reality competitions – which would be year-round for the many positions in government – would also solve the government’s budget problems. You could charge a lot for commercials.
     The presidential winner should be announced at halftime of the Super Bowl (and maybe get to ride a Clydesdale with Beyonce or Chris Hemsworth, depending on sexual preference).
     There’s got to be some reward for winning.

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