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American Idol Votes And the Collapse of Democracy

Just as I was sitting down to watch a movie last night (Kenneth Branagh's Henry V) I did a quick channel surf, and as fate would have it, caught the last five minutes of American Idol. It's kind of like basketball, the last 5 minutes are the most interesting. I must confess, that was alI I saw of this year's season, and I found it quite troubling.

In those five minutes, it was revealed that over 500 million people cast their votes for Carrie Underwood and Bo Bice (in case you're like me, and totally oblivious to this national craze, Carrie Underwood won). Now if you recall, President Bush, with his largest vote win in American history, received a paltry 122 million votes.

The implications for our democracy are stark. Neil Postman warned us we are Amusing Ourselves to Death decades ago, and his prophecy was proven correct last night. When it comes to the future of our nation only 122 million people (about 60%) care enough to cast a ballot, but when it comes to who will be the next American Idol, everybody gets excited.

The emerging answer, evidenced in my own state of Minnesota, is to make politics entertainment. Here in Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, with a little luck and some entertaining action figure commercials, was able to capture the govenor's mansion, and Arnold followed suit soon after in California. Ronald Reagan did Hollywood before he did Washington. And let's not forget Bill Clinton's surprise saxophone appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show during the 1992 campaign, which some critics say turned the election around for him.

Perhaps the answer lies in making the next American Idol president of the U.S.

I know it sounds far fetched, but hear me out. It wouldn't take much. The shows are already carefully scripted like presidential debates and campaign stops. There is plenty of intrigue and scandal built in to keep the media interested. There is a left-wing blue state Holloywood slant that matches up well with the MSM coverage of the elections, they rarely if ever discuss anything of substance, and in the end you have two final candidates, one of whom is declared the winner.

Not only that, voter turnout numbers could skyrocket, voter fraud could be easily accomplished by Republicans and Democrats alike, and in the end, Americans could feel good about their next president. Heck, we could require the president to put all proceeds from his (or her) new found stardom toward the deficit, and balance the budget overnight. Of course such an approach would require the elimination of the electoral college, but with the presidential campaign broadcast into every living room every week, no state would be left behind.

2008 hopefuls, auditions are scheduled for Austin, Memphis, Chicago, Atlanta, Denver and Boston. Book your flights and fine tune your acts now. The whitehouse awaits you!

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 26, 2005 8:22 AM.

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