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Francesism (11/04/2012)
By Frances Edstrom

Remember the excitement of your approaching birthday: Will I have a party? Will Grandma give me that ballerina doll, or will she send pajamas again? How about the first day of school: Will Mrs. Smith be nice? Will I get to sit next to Mary B.? Did that naughty George S. drop out of school yet? Then there was the anticipation of Christmas morning (or your favorite gift-giving holiday): Is Santa Claus really real, or is what the kids at school say true? If I say I don’t believe, will I still get presents? I hope the toy train is for me this year instead of my big brother!

Well, that’s the way I am about Election Day. Maybe not quite…it isn’t that I want it to get here; it’s that I want it to be over. In order to be over, it has to get here.

You may think that you are sick of political attack ads and letters. How do you think we in the media feel? There is absolutely no way an editor can get through the election season without getting phone calls during which said editor is accused of favoritism, partisanship, idiocy, and sometimes callers throw in racism, sexism, ageism, anarchism, agnosticism, capitalism (guilty as charged), egoism, irreligionism, liberalism, conservatism, optimism, pessimism, pragmatism, skepticism, sensationalism, and an all-around despicableness. And no less than three of those calls go to the editor’s house, after office hours.

We have policies governing letters to the editor that we must follow. Consequently, we have to edit endorsement letters to 50 words (but what if the letter writer is endorsing two candidates?), send attack letters to our attorney for vetting, plus hold people to a 500-word limit when what they want to send is the length of “War and Peace” and just “can’t” be pared down. We have to tell people who want us to promote their lutefisk and meatball suppers that we won’t have room until after the election. No, no, I’m not looking for sympathy.

My mother used to say, when I would gush that I couldn’t wait until my birthday, “Don’t wish your life away.” I get it. Especially after the intervention of so many years.

So I think instead of wishing for Election Day to hurry up and get here, I will wish for a different system of government. Faithful readers will notice that this is not the first time that I have proposed this system, but now I have a name for it—”Francesism.”

Under Francesism, the names of all citizens over the age of 21 would be entered in a huge computer. (Perhaps no felons or those incarcerated or in mental institutions would be included—but that’s negotiable, because some will say, “What’s the difference between those people and the office-holders we already have?”

When Selection Day rolls around, the computer will spit out a name for every office in the country—from Dog Catcher in Dogwood, Nebraska, to President of the U.S. The computer would be programmed to know age requirements for all offices. Salaries of office holders would be what they were making before they were selected, plus a small stipend to pay for two dress suits and a haircut a month (cheap ones). Whoever is chosen to be President of the U.S. would also get the services of a security guard to protect the house left back home because of the move into the White House. Terms would remain the same as they are now. A person would only be eligible for selection once, so no term limits would be necessary.

I envision big parties to celebrate those selected, and the fact that you didn’t get selected. I also envision editors who can get back to the real business of running a newspaper: lutefisk dinners and the police blotter.



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