This is funny but the point is serious:
- With just three weeks to go until Election Day, the Federal Election Commission stunned the political world today by announcing that the election would be cancelled and that a focus group of nine voters in Ohio would pick the nation’s next president instead.
The focus group, consisting of four men and five women, are expected to convene every day between now and Nov. 2 with electrodes glued to key regions of their bodies to measure their every response to President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry.
While reaction to the FEC’s move was mixed, one election official in Florida praised the decision to cancel the vote: “This is kind of a relief, because we tested our new electronic voting machines last week and none of them really worked.”
Moments after the FEC’s announcement, the two candidates pulled their political ads from every state but Ohio and started tailoring their messages to appeal to the nine all-important focus group members..... [Andy Borowitz]
If you aren't in a "battleground state" you may not get a whiff of either candidate in your neck of the woods; and if you are in, for example, Ohio, you may wake up to find Kerry or Bush using your bathroom. There doesn't seem to be much in between. Even in this age of ubiquitous electronic media, there is nothing like a flesh appearance to drive interest, local media coverage, and to give voters a sense of a relationship with a candidate, however illusory it may be.
Since the campaigns, pollsters, parties, and the media use every available means - including the dreaded focus groups - to figure out how to stragetigize, best use precious resources, and schedule appearances, Borowitz's scenario isn't all that farfetched.
And since the one irreducible element of all this is that candidates can only be in one place at one time, I think the real answer to the dilemma - and the possible savior of face-to-face democracy in the 21st century - is cloning (although the notion of "one man, one vote" would have to be reevaluated). That way the entire nation can enjoy the personal attention now reserved for battle ground states and focus groups.
Almost certainly not coincidentally, Borowitz will be appearing at a "Laugh 'em Out of Office," um, "fun-raiser" for MoveOn.org along with Paul Krassner and Joel Pett in Cleveland tonight . If only entertainers were allowed to vote, the election would be a Democratic coronation.