The Democratic debate in Detroit on Wednesday night went better than I expected. I watched an unprecedented 5% of the show before deciding that my time might be better spent pulling weeds in the yard with my eyes closed.
Ten candidates stood on the stage and bickered about who among them would make the worst president. The only comment that even remotely caught my attention was made by New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
“The first thing I’m going to do when I’m president,” she said, “is I’m going to Clorox the Oval Office.”
Finally, a presidential candidate who may actually be onto something. I kept listening but soon was disappointed. Hers was a milquetoast claim because it didn’t go nearly far enough.
Had Gillibrand said “sarin gas” instead of “Clorox,” and “Congress” instead of the “Oval Office,” it might have kept my interest. That’s the sort of candidate I could support.
Political debates accomplish little that will benefit average voters. That’s because average voters already have their minds made up about whom they’re going to support or, more specifically, “what” they want their candidate to do.
For example, say you or someone equally detestable believes the Second Amendment includes the right to private ownership of nuclear weapons — strictly for hunting and home defense, of course.
If that’s the case, you wouldn’t go shopping for a candidate in the Democratic Party. There probably isn’t one there you could back. Hell, some of them believe Pez candy dispensers qualify as firearms.
The same is true if you strongly believe that America’s immigration laws should treat Mexican immigrants the same as any other naturally migrating species.
When legislation is proposed — and you know it’s coming — that advocates warehousing ducks and separating them from their eggs and ducklings, it will probably be a Republican who does it.
No, what we need is a strong third party. But we can’t get that without better rules for debate, or a more immediate way of separating the chaff from the wheat.
Hang on. This is an apt analogy in that many agrarian communities still thrash wheat to get at the grain.
Am I saying the political candidates be given a good pounding immediately before a televised debate? Well, yeah, I guess I am. Nothing would indicate just how serious a candidate is to get your vote than by showing a willingness to submit to a flogging just for a chance at getting it.
The downside is that some lunatics actually enjoy that sort of treatment. Such mental instability would explain how some people got elected in the past.
Stick with me here, because I sense that I’m onto something.
After all, with a president or, hell, even a member of Congress — we are talking about individuals, leaders upon whom many of us depend for our very lives. They pass laws and actions that lead to armed conflict, crappy health care and all sorts of things that don’t affect the people who make the decisions.
Forget debates. I propose the American boot system. It’s magnificent in its simplicity.
At the end of politicians’ terms, they will undergo second votes, the outcome of which will determine if they get to keep their citizenship.
Imagine how good it would feel to take a former president or member of Congress, sneak him or her onto a deserted beach somewhere in, oh, say, Yemen, ring the doorbell and run.
That’s how we make America great again. By getting rid of the people who helped make it worse in the first place.
Robert Kirby is The Salt Lake Tribune’s humor columnist. Follow Kirby on Facebook.